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Communist Party 



Authorized English Translation: Edited and 
Annotated by Frederick Engels 




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The "Manifesto" was published as the 
platform of the "Communist League," a 
workingmen's association, first exclusively 
German, later on international, and, under 
the political conditions of the Continent be- 
fore 1848, unavoidably a secret society. At 
a Congress of the League, held in London in 
November, 1847, Marx and Engels were com- 
missioned to prepare for publication a com- 
plete theoretical and practical party-pro- 
gramme. Drawn up in German, in January, 
1848, the manuscript was sent to the printer 
in London a few weeks before the French 
revolution of February 24th. A French 
translation was brought out in Paris, shortly 
before the insurrection of June, 1848. The 
first English translation, by Miss Helen 
Macfarlane, appeared in George Julian Har- 
ney's "Bed Republican," London, 1850. A 
Danish and a Polish edition had also been 

The defeat of the Parisian insurrection of) 
June, 1848, — the first great battle between 
Proletariat and Bourgeoisie— drove again into 
the background, for a time, the social and 
political aspirations of the European work- 
ing class. Thenceforth the struggle for su- 
premacy was again, as it had been before the 
revolution of February, solely between dif- 


ferent sections of the propertied class; the 
working class was reduced to a fight for po- 
litical elbow-room, and to the position of ex- 
treme wing of the Middle-class Radicals. 
Wherever independent proletarian move- 
ments continued to show signs of life, they 
were ruthlessly hunted down. Thus the 
Prussian police hunted out the Central Board 
of the Communist League, then located in 
Cologne. The members were arrested, and, 
after eighteen months' imprisonment, they 
were tried in October, 1852. This celebrated 
"Cologne Communist trial" lasted from Oc- 
tober 4th till November 12th; seven of the 
prisoners were sentenced to terms of im- 
prisonment in a fortress, varying from three 
to six years. Immediately after the sentence 
the League was formally dissolved by the 
remaining members. As to the "Manifesto," 
it seemed thenceforth to be doomed to obliv- 

When the European working class had re- 
covered sufficient strength for another attack 
on the ruling classes, the International 
Working Men's Association sprang up. But 
this association, formed with the express 
aim of welding into one body the whole mili- 
tant proletariat of Europe and America, 
could not at once proclaim the principles laid 
down in the "Manifesto." The International 
was bound to have a programme broad 
enough to be acceptable to the English 
Trades' Unions, to the followers of Proudhon 
in France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain, and to 


the £a«salleans* in Germany. Marx, who 
drew up this programme to the satisfaction 
of all parties, entirely trusted to the intel- 
lectual development of the working-class, 
which was sure to result from combined ac- 
tion and mutual discussion. The very events 
and vicissitudes of the struggle against 
Capital, the defeats even more than the vic- 
tories, could not help bringing home to 
men's minds the insufficiency of their vari- 
ous favourite nostrums, and preparing the 
way for a more complete insight into the 
true conditions of working-class emancipa- 
tion. And Marx was right. The Interna- 
tional, on its breaking up in 1874, left the 
workers quite different men from what it 
had found them in 1864. Froudhonism in 
France, Lasalleanism in Germany were dy- 
ing out, and even the Conservative English 
Trades' Unions, though most of them had 
long since severed their connexion with the 
International, were gradually advancing to- 
wards that point at which, last year at Swan- 
sea, their Fresident could say in their name 
"Continental Socialism has lost its terrors 
for us." In fact: the principles of the "Man- 
ifesto" had made considerable headway 
among the working men of all countries. 

The Manifesto itself thus came to the 
front again. The German text had been, 

♦Laesalle personally, to us, always acknowledged 
himself to be a disciple of Marx, and, as such, 
stood on the ground of the "Manifesto." But In 
his public agitation, 1860-64, he did not go beyond 
demanding co-operative workshops supported by 
State credit. 


since 1850, reprinted several times in Switz- 
erland, England and America. In 1872, it 
was translated into English in New York, 
where the translation was published in 
"Woodhull and Clafiin's Weekly." From 
this English version, a French one was made 
in "Le Socialiste" of New York. Since then 
at least two more English translations, more 
or less mutilated, have been brought out in 
America, and one of them has been reprinted 
in England. The first Russian translation, 
made by Bakounine, was published at Her- 
zen's "Kolokol" office in Geneva, about 1863; 
a second one, by the heroic Vera Zasulitch, 
also in Geneva, 1882. A new Danish edi- 
tion is to be found in "Socialdemokratisk 
Bibliothek," Copenhagen, 1885; a fresh 
French translation in "Le Socialiste,*' Paris, 
1886. From this latter a Spanish version 
was prepared and published in Madrid, 1886. 
The German reprints are not to be counted, 
there have been twelve altogether at the 
least. An Armenian translation, which was 
to be published in Constantinople some 
months ago, did not see the light, I am told, 
because the publisher was afraid of bringing 
out a book with the name of Marx on it, 
while the translator declined to call it his 
own production. Of further translations into 
other languages I have heard, but have not 
seen them. Thus the history of the Mani- 
festo reflects, to a great extent, the history 
of the modern working-class movement; at 
present it . is undoubtedly the most wide- 


spread, the most international production of 
all Socialist Literature, the common plat- 
form acknowledged by millions of working 
men from Siberia to California. 

Yet, when it was written, we could not 
have called it a Socialist Manifesto. By 
Socialists, in 1847, were understood, on the 
one hand, the adherents of the various Uto- 
pian systems: Owenites in England, Four- 
ierists in France, both of them already re- 
duced to the position of mere sects, and 
gradually dying out; on the other hand, the 
most multifarious social quacks, who, by all 
manners of tinkering, professed to redress, 
without any danger to capital and profit, all 
sorts of social grievances, in both cases men 
outside the working class movement, and 
looking rather to the "educated" classes for 
support. Whatever portion of the working 
class had become convinced of the insuf- 
ficiency of mere political revolutions, and 
had proclaimed the necessity of a total social 
change, that portion, then, called itself Com- 
munist. It was a crude, rough-hewn, purely 
instinctive sort of Communism; still, it 
touched the cardinal point and was power- 
ful enough amongst the working class to 
produce the Utopian Communism, in France, 
of Cabet, and in Germany, of Weitling. 
Thus, Socialism was, in 1847, a middle-class 
movement, Communism a working class 
movement. Socialism was, on the Continent 
at least, "respectable"; Communism was the 
very opposite. And as our notion, from the 


very beginning, was that "the emancipa- 
tion of the working class must be the act of 
the working class itself/ 9 there could be no 
doubt as to which of the two names we must 
take. Moreover, we have, ever since, been 
far from repudiating it. 

The "Manifesto" being our joint produc- 
tion, I consider myself bound to state that 
the fundamental proposition which forms its 
nucleus, belongs to Marx. That proposi- 
tion is: that in every historical epoch, the 
prevailing mode of economic production and 
exchange, and the social organisation neces- 
sarily following from it, form the basis upon 
which is built up, and from which alone can 
be explained, the political and intellectual 
history of that epoch; that consequently the 
whole history of mankind (since the dissolu- 
tion of primitive tribal society, holding land 
in common ownership) has been a history of 
olass struggles, contests between exploiting 
and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; 
that the history of these class struggles forms 
a series of evolution in which, now-a-days, 
a stage has been reached where the exploited 
and oppressed class — the proletariat— cannot 
attain its emancipation from the sway of the 
exploiting and ruling class — the bourgeoisie 
— without, at the same time, and once and 
for all, emancipating society at large from 
all exploitation, oppression, class-distinc- 
tions and class-struggles. 

This proposition which, in my opinion, is 
destined to do for history what Darwin's 


theory has done for biology, we, both of us, 
had been gradually approaching for some 
years before 1845. How far I had indepen- 
dently progressed towards it, is best shown 
by my "Condition of the Working Class in 
England."* But when I again met Marx 
at Brussels, in spring, 1845, he had it ready 
worked out, and put it before me, in terms 
almost as clear as those in which I have 
stated it here. 

From our joint preface to the German edi- 
tion of 1872, I quote the following: 

"However much the state of things may 
have altered during the last 25 years, the 
general principles laid down in this Mani- 
festo are, on the whole, as correct to-day as 
ever. Here and there some detail might be 
improved. The practical application of the 
principles will depend, as the manifesto it- 
self states, everywhere and at all times, on 
the historical conditions for the time being 
existing, and, for that reason, no special 
stress is laid on the revolutionary measures 
proposed at the end of Section H. That pas- 
sage would, in many respects, be very dif- 
ferently worded to-day. In view of the 
gigantic strides of Modern Industry since 
1848, and of the accompanying improved 
and extended organisation of the working- 
class, in view of the practical experience 
gained, first in the February revolution, and 
then, still more, in the Paris Commune, 

♦The Condition of the Working Class in England 
in 1844. By Frederick Engels. Translated by 
Florence K. Wischnewetzky— London, Swan, Son- 
nenschein & Co. 


where the proletariat for the first tixnt li«i« 
political power for two whole months, this 
programme has in some details become 
antiquated. One thing especially was proved 
by the Commune, viz., that "the work- 
ing-class cannot simply lay hold of the 
ready-made State machinery, and wield 
it for its own purposes. 9 ' (See "The Civil 
War in France; Address of the Gen- 
eral Council of the International Work- 
ing-men's Association," London, Truelove, 
1871, p. 15, where this point is further 
developed). Further, it is self-evident, that 
the criticism of socialist literature is defi- 
cient in relation to the present time, because 
it comes down only to 1847; also, that the 
remarks on the relation of the Communists 
to the various opposition-parties (Section 
IV.), although in principle still correct, yet 
in practice are antiquated, because the po- 
litical situation has been entirely changed, 
and the progress of history has swept from 
off the earth the greater portion of the po- 
litical parties there enumerated. 

But then, the Manifesto has become a his- 
torical document which we have no longer 
any right to alter." 

The present translation is by Mr. Samuel 
Moore, the translator of the greater portion 
of Marx's "Capital." We have revised it in 
common, and I have added a few notes ex- 
planatory of historical allusions. 

Frederick Engels. 

London, 80th January, 1888. 

Manifesto of the Communist Party. 



A SPECTRE is haunting Europe — the spec- 
tre of Communism. All the Powers of old 
Europe have entered into a holy alliance to 
exorcise this spectre; Pope and Czar, Metter- 
nich and Guizot, French Radicals and Ger- 
man police-spies. 

Where is the party in opposition that has 
not been decried as communistic by its op- 
ponents in power P Where the Opposition 
that has not hurled back the branding re- 
proach of Communism, against the more ad- 
vanced opposition parties, as well as against 
its re-actionary adversaries? 

Two things result from this fact. 

I. Communism is already acknowledged 
by all European Powers to be itself a Power. 

II. It is high time that Communists 
should openly, in the face of the whole 
world, publish their views, their aims, their 
tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the 
Spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of 
the party itself. 

To this end, Communists of various nation- 
alities have assembled in London, and 


sketched the following manifesto, to be pub- 
lished in the English, French, German, 
Italian, Flemish and Danish languages. 


The history of all hitherto existing so- 
cietyt is the history of class struggles. 

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, 
lord and serf, guild-master t and journey- 
man, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, 
stood in constant opposition to one another, 
carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, 
now open fight, a fight that each time ended, 

•By bourgeoisie Is meant the class of modern 
Capitalists, owners of the means of social produc- 
tion and employers of wage-labour. By prole- 
tariat, the class of modern wage-labourers who, 
having no means of production of their own, are 
reduced to selling their labour-power in order to 

tThat is, all written history. In 1847, the pre- 
history of society, the social organization existing 
Erevlous to recorded history, was all but un- 
nown. Since then, Haxthausen discovered com- 
mon ownership of land in Russia, Maurer proved 
it to be the social foundation from which all 
Teutonic races started in history* and by and bye 
village communities were found to be, or to have 
been, the primitive form of society everywhere 
from India to Ireland. The inner organization of 
this primitive Communistic society was laid bare, 
in its typical form, by Morgan's crowning dis- 
covery of the true nature of the gens and its 
relation to the tribe. With the dissolution of these 
primaeval communities society begins to be dif- 
ferentiated into separate and finally antagonistic 
classes. I have attempted to retrace this process 
of dissolution in: "Der Uraprung der Familie dea, 
Privateigenthums und des Staats," 2nd edit., 
Stuttgart 1886. 

X Guild-master, that is a full member of a guild, 
a master within, not a head of. a guild. 


either in a revolutionary re-constitution of 
society at large, or in the common ruin of 
the contending classes. 

In the earlier epochs of history, we find 
almost everywhere a complicated arrange- 
ment of society into various orders, a mani- 
fold gradation of social rank. In ancient 
Home we have patricians, knights, plebeians, 
slaves; in the middle ages, feudal lords, vas- 
sals, guild-masters, Journeymen, apprentices, 
serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, 
subordinate gradations. 

The modern bourgeois society that has 
sprouted from the ruins of feudal society, 
has not done away with class antagonisms. 
It has but established new classes, new con- 
ditions of oppression, new forms of struggle 
in place of the old ones. 

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, 
possesses, however, this distinctive feature; 
it has simplified the class antagonisms. So- 
ciety as a whole is more and more splitting 
up into two great hostile camps, into two 
great classes directly facing each other: 
Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. 

From the serfs of the middle ages sprang 
the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. 
From these burgesses the first elements of 
the bourgeoisie were developed. 

The discovery of America, the rounding of 
the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the 
rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chi- 
nese markets, the colonisation of America, 
trade with the colonies, the increase in the 


means of exchange and in commodities gen- 
erally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to 
industry, an impulse never before known, 
and thereby, to the revolutionary element in 
the tottering feudal society, a rapid develop- 

The feudal system of industry, under 
which industrial production was monopolised 
by close guilds, now no longer sufficed for 
the growing wants of the new markets. The 
manufacturing system took its place. The 
guild-masters were pushed on one side by 
the manufacturing middle-class; division of 
labour between the different corporate guilds 
vanished in the face of division of labour 
in each single workshop. 

Meantime the markets kept ever growing, 
the demand, ever rising. Even manufacture 
no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and 
machinery revolutionised industrial produc- 
tion. The place of manufacture was taken 
by the giant, Modern Industry, the place of 
the industrial middle-class, by industrial 
millionaires, the leaders of whole industrial 
armies, the modern bourgeois. 

Modern industry has established the 
world-market, for which the discovery of 
America paved the way. This market has 
given an immense development to commerce, 
to navigation, to communication by land. 
This development has, in its turn, reacted on 
the extension of industry; and in proportion 
as industry, commerce, navigation, railways 
extended, in the same proportion the hour- 


geoisie developed, increased its capital, and 
pushed into the background every class 
handed down from the Middle Ages. 

We see, therefore, how the modern bour- 
geoisie is itself the product of a long course 
of development, of a series of revolutions in 
the modes of production and of exchange. 

Each step in the development of the bour- 
geoisie was accompanied by a corresponding 
political advance of that class. An op- 
pressed class under the sway of the feudal 
nobility, an armed and self-governing asso- 
ciation in the mediaeval commune, * here in- 
dependent urban republic (as in Italy and 
Germany), there taxable "third estate" of 
the monarchy (as in France), afterwards, in 
the period of manufacture proper, serving 
either the semi-feudal or the absolute mon- 
archy as a counterpoise against the nobility, 
and, in fact, corner stone of the great mon- 
archies in general, the bourgeoisie has at 
last, since the establishment of Modern In- 
dustry and of the world-market, conquered 
for itself, in the modern representative State, 
exclusive political sway. The executive of 
the modern State is but a committee for 
managing the common affairs of the whole 

♦"Commune" was the name taken, in France, by 
the nascent towns even before they had conquered 
from their feudal lords and masters, local self- 
government and political rights as "the Third 
Estate." Generally speaking, for the economical 
development of the bourgeoisie, England is here 
taken as the typical country, for its political de- 
velopment, France. 


The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a 
most revolutionary part. 
' The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the 
upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, 
patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has piti- 
lessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties 
that bound man to his "natural superiors," 
and has left remaining no other nexus be- 
tween man and man than naked self-inter- 
est, than callous "cash payment." It has 
drowned the most heavenly ecstaciea of re- 
ligious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of 
Philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water 
of egotistical calculation. It has resolved 
personal worth into exchange value, and in 
place of the numberless indefeasible char- 
tered freedoms, has set up that single, un- 
conscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one 
word, for exploitation, veiled by religious 
and political illusions, it has substituted 
naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. 

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halt 
every occupation hitherto honoured a 
looked up to with reverent awe. It has con- 
verted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, 
the poet, the man of science, into its paid 

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the 
family its sentimental veil, and has reduced 
the family relation to a mere money relation. 

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came 
to pass that the brutal display of vigour in 
the Kiddle Ages, which Beactionists so 
much admire, found its fitting complement 


in the most slothful indolence. It has been 
the first to shew what man's activity can 
bring about. It has accomplished wonders 
far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman 
aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has con- 
ducted expeditions that put in the shade all 
former Exoduses of nations and crusades. 

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without con- 
stantly revolutionising the instruments of 
production, and thereby the relations of pro- 
duction, and with them the whole relations 
of society. Conservation of the old modes of 
production in unaltered form, was, on the 
contrary, the first condition of existence for 
all earlier industrial classes. Constant revo- 
lutionising of production, uninterrupted dis- 
turbance of all social conditions, everlasting 
uncertainty and agitation distinguish the 
bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All 
fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train 
of ancient and venerable prejudices and 
opinions, are swept away, all new-formed 
t/j^es become antiquated before they can 
ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all 
that is holy is profaned, and man is at last 
compelled to face with sober senses, his real 
conditions of life, and his relations with his 

The need of a constantly expanding market 
for its products chases the bourgeoisie over 
the whole surface of the globe. It must 
nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, estab- 
lish connexions everywhere. 

The bourgeoisie has through its exploita- 


tion of the world-market given a cosmopoli- 
tan character to production and consumption 
in every country. To the great chagrin of 
Be-actionists, it has drawn from under the 
feet of industry the national ground on 
which it stood. All old-established national 
industries have been destroyed or are daily 
being destroyed. They are dislodged by new 
industries, whose introduction becomes a life 
and death question for all civilised nations, 
by industries that no longer work up indig- 
enous raw material, but raw material 
drawn from the remotest zones; industries 
whose products are consumed, not only at 
home, but in every quarter of the globe. In 
place of the old wants, satisfied by the pro- 
ductions of the country, we find new wants, 
requiring for their satisfaction the products 
of distant lands and climes. In place of the 
old local and national seclusion and self- 
sufficiency, we have intercourse in every di- 
rection, universal inter-dependence of na- 
tions. And as in material, so also in intel- 
lectual production. The intellectual crea- 
tions of individual nations become common 
property. National one-sidedness and nar- 
row-mindedness become more and more im- 
possible, and from the numerous national 
and local literatures there arises a world- 

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement 
of all instruments of production, by the im- 
mensely facilitated means of communication, 
draws all, even the most barbarian, nations 


into civilisation. The cheap prices of its 
commodities are the heavy artillery with 
which it batters down all Chinese walls, 
with which it forces the barbarians' in- 
tensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to 
capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain 
of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode 
of production; it compels them to introduce 
what it calls civilisation into their midst, 
i. e., to become bourgeois themselves. In a 
word, it creates a world after its own image. 

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country 
to the rule of the towns. It has created 
enormous cities, has greatly increased the 
urban population as compared with the 
rural, and has thus rescued a considerable 
part of the population from the idiocy of 
rural life. Just as it has made the country 
dependent on the towns, so it has made bar- 
barian and semi-barbarian countries de- 
pendent on the civilised ones, nations of 
peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East 
on the West. 

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more do- 
in^ away with the scattered state of the 
population, of the means of production, and 
of property. It has agglomerated popula- 
tion, centralised means of production, and 
has concentrated property in a few hands. 
The necessary consequence of this was po- 
litical centralisation. Independent, or but 
loosely connected provinces, with separate 
interests, laws, governments and systems of 
taxation, became lumped together in one na- 


tion, with one government, one code of laws, 
one national class-interest, one frontier and 
one customs-tariff. 

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce 
one hundred years, has created more massive 
and more colossal productive forces than 
have all preceding generations together. 
Subjection of Nature's forces to man, ma- 
chinery, application of chemistry to industry 
and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, 
electric telegraphs, clearing of whole conti- 
nents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, 
whole populations conjured out of the 
ground — what earlier century had even a 
presentiment that such productive forces 
slumbered in the lap of social labour P 

We see then: the means of production and 
of exchange on whose foundation the bour- 
geoisie built itself up, were generated in 
feudal society. At a certain stage in the de- 
velopment of these means of production and 
of exchange, the conditions under which 
feudal society produced and exchanged, the 
feudal organisation of agriculture and man- 
ufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal 
relations of property became no longer com- 
patible with the already developed produc- 
tive forces; they became so many fetters. 
They had to burst asunder; they were burst 

Into their places stepped free competition, 
accompanied by a social and political con- 
stitution adapted to it, and by the economical 
and political sway of the bourgeois class. 


A similar movement is going on before our 
own eyes. Modern bourgeois society with 
its relations of production, of exchange and 
of property, a society that has conjured up 
such gigantic means of production and of ex- 
change, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer 
able to control the powers of the nether 
world whom he has called up by his spells. 
For many a decade past the history of indus- 
try and commerce is but the history of the 
revolt of modern productive forces against 
modern conditions of production, against the 
property relations that are the conditions for 
the existence of the bourgeoisie and of its 
rule. It is enough to mention the commer- 
cial crises that by their periodical return 
put on its trial, each time more threaten- 
ingly, the existence of the entire bourgeois 
society. In these crises a great part not only 
of the existing products, but also of the 
previously created productive forces, are pe- 
riodically destroyed. In these crises there 
breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier 
epochs, would have seemed an absurdity— 
the epidemic of over-production. Society 
suddenly finds itself put back into a state of 
momentary barbarism; it appears as if a 
famine, a universal war of devastation had 
cut off the supply of every means of sub- 
sistence; industry and commerce seem to be 
destroyed; and whyP Because there is too 
much civilisation, too much means of sub- 
sistence, too much industry, too much com- 
merce. The productive forces at the dis- 


posal of society no longer tend to further the 
development of the conditions of bourgeois 
property; on the contrary, they have become 
too powerful for these conditions, by which 
they are fettered, and so soon as they over- 
come these fetters, they bring disorder into 
the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the 
existence of bourgeois property. The con- 
ditions of bourgeois society are too narrow 
to comprise the wealth created by them. And 
how does the bourgeoisie get over these 
crisesF On the one hand by enforced de- 
struction of a mass of productive forces; on 
the other, by the conquest of new markets, 
and by the more thorough exploitation of 
the old ones. That is to say, by paving the 
way for more extensive and more destructive 
crises, and by diminishing the means 
whereby crises are prevented. 

The weapons with which the bourgeoisie 
felled feudalism to the ground are now 
turned against the bourgeoisie itself. 

But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the 
weapons that bring death to itself; it has 
also called into existence the men who are to 
wield those weapons — the modern working- 
class — the proletarians. 

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i. e., capi- 
tal, is developed, in the same proportion is 
the proletariat, the modern working-class, 
developed, a class of labourers, who live only 
so long as they find work, and who find work 
only so long as their labour increases capi- 
tal. These labourers, who must sell them- 



selves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every 
other article of commerce, and are conse- 
quently exposed to all the vicissitudes of 
competition, to all the fluctuations of the 

Owing to the extensive use of machinery 
and to division of labour, the work of the 
proletarians has lost all individual character, 
and, consequently, all charm for the work- 
man. He becomes an appendage of the ma- 
chine, and it is only the most simple, most 
monotonous, and most easily acquired knack 
that is required of him. Hence, the cost of 
production of a workman is restricted, al- 
most entirely, to the means of subsistence 
that he requires for his maintenance, and for 
the propagation of his race. Bu.t the price 
of a commodity, and also of labour, is equal 
to its cost of production. In proportion, 
therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work 
increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in 
proportion as the use of machinery and divi- 
sion of labour increases, in the same propor- 
tion the burden of toil also increases, whether 
by prolongation of the working hours, by in- 
crease of the work enacted in a given time,; 
or by increased speed of the machinery, etc/ 

Modern industry has converted the little 
workshop of the patriarchal master into the 
great factory of the industrial capitalist. 
Masses of labourers, crowded into the fac- 
tory, are organised like soldiers. As pri- 
vates of the industrial army they are placed 
under the command of a perfect hierarchy of 


officers and sergeants. Not only are they 
the slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the 
bourgeois State, they are daily and hourly 
enslaved by the machine, by the over-looker, 
and, above all, by the individual bourgeois 
manufacturer himself. The more openly this 
despotism proclaims gain to be its end and 
aim, the more petty, the more hateful and 
the more embittering it is. 

The less the skill and exertion or strength 
implied in manual labour, in other words, 
the more modern industry becomes devel- 
oped, the more is the labour of men super- 
seded by that of women. Differences of age 
and sex have no longer any distinctive so- 
cial validity for the working class. All are 
instruments of labour, more or less expen- 
sive to use, according to their age and sex. 

No sooner is the exploitation of the la- 
bourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an 
end, that he receives his wages in cash, than 
he is set upon by the other portions of the 
bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, 
the pawnbroker, etc. 

The lower strata of the Middle class — the 
small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired 
tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen 
and peasants — all these sink gradually into 
the proletariat, partly because their diminu- 
tive capital does not suffice for the scale on 
which Modern Industry is carried on, and is 
swamped in the competition with the large 
capitalists, partly because their specialised 
skill is rendered worthless by new methods 


of production. Thus the proletariat is re- 
cruited from all classes of the population. 

The proletariat goes through various stages 
of development. With its birth begins its 
struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the 
contest is carried on by individual labour- 
ers, then by the workpeople of a factory, 
then by the operatives of one trade, in one 
locality, against the individual bourgeois 
who directly exploits them. They direct their 
attacks not against the bourgeois conditions 
of production, but against the instruments 
of production themselves; they destroy im- 
ported wares that compete with their labour, 
they smash to pieces machinery, they set 
factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force 
the vanished status of the workman of the 
Middle Ages. 

At this stage the labourers still form an 
incoherent mass scattered over the whole 
country, and broken up by their mutual 
competition. If anywhere they unite to form 
more compact bodies, this is not yet the con- 
sequence of their own active union, but of 
the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in 
order to attain its own political ends, is 
compelled to set the whole proletariat in 
motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able 
to do so./ At this stage, therefore, the 
proletarians do not fight their enemies, but 
the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of 
absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non- 
industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeoisie. 
Thus the whole historical movement is con- 


centrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; 
every victory so obtained is a victory for the 

But with the development of industry the 
proletariat not only increases in number; it 
becomes concentrated in greater masses, its 
strength grows, and it feels that strength 
more. The various interests and conditions 
of *Ufe within the ranks of the proletariat 
are more and more equalised, in proportion 
as machinery obliterates all distinctions of 
labour, and nearly everywhere reduces 
wages to the same low level. The growing 
competition among the bourgeois, and the 
resulting commercial crises, make the wages 
of the workers ever more fluctuating. The 
unceasing improvement of machinery, ever 
more rapidly developing, makes their liveli- 
hood more and more precarious; the colli- 
sions between individual workmen and indi- 
vidual bourgeois take more and more the 
character of collisions between two classes. 
Thereupon the workers begin to form com- 
binations (Trades' Unions) against the bour- 
geois; they club together in order to keep 
up the rate of wages; they found permanent 
associations in order to make provision be- 
forehand for these occasional revolts. Here 
and there the contest breaks out into riots. 

Now and then the workers are victorious, 
but only for a time. The real fruit of their 
battles lies, not in the immediate result, but 
in the ever expanding union of the workers. 
This union is helped on by the improved 


means of communication that are created by 
modern industry, and that place the workers 
of different localities in contact with one an- 
other. It was just this contact that was 
needed to centralise the numerous local strug- 
gles, all of the same character, into one na- 
tional struggle between classes. But every 
class struggle is a political struggle. And 
that union, to attain which the burghers of 
the Middle Ages, with their miserable high- 
ways, required centuries, the modern prole- 
terians, thanks to railways, achieve in a 
few years. 

This organisation of the proletarians into 
a class, and consequently into a political 
party, is continually being upset again by 
the competition between the workers them- 
selves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, 
firmer, mightier. It compels legislative rec- 
ognition of particular interests of the work- 
ers, by taking advantage of the divisions 
among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus the ten- 
hours'-bill in England was carried. 

Altogether collisions between the classes 
of the old society further, in many ways, 
the course of development of the proletariat. 
The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a 
constant battle. At first with the aristoc- 
racy; later on, with those portions of the 
bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have be- 
come antagonistic to the progress of indus- 
try; at all times, with the bourgeoisie of for- 
eign countries. In all these battles it sees 
itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, 


to ask for its help, and thus, to drag it into 
the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, 
therefore, supplies the proletariat with its 
own elements of political and general educa- 
tion, in other words, it furnishes the prol- 
etariat with weapons for fighting the bour- 

Further, as we have already seen, entire 
sections of the ruling classes are, by the 
advance of industry, precipitated into the 
proletariat, or are at least threatened in their 
conditions of existence. These also supply 
the proletariat with fresh elements of en- 
lightenment and progress. 

Finally, in times when the class-struggle 
nears the decisive hour, the process of dis- 
solution going on within the ruling class, 
in fact within the whole range of old so- 
ciety, assumes such a violent, glaring char- 
acter, that a small section of the ruling 
class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolu- 
tionary class, the class that holds the future 
in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier 
period, a section of the nobility went over to 
the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bour- 
geoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in 
particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideolo- 
gists, who have raised themselves to the 
level of comprehending theoretically the his- 
torical movements as a whole. 

Of all the classes that stand face to face 
with the bourgeoisie to-day, the proletariat 
alone is a really revolutionary class. The 
other classes decay and finally disappear in 


the face of modern industry; the proletariat 
is its special and essential product. 

The lower middle-class, the small manu- 
facturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the 
peasant, all these fight against the bour- 
geoisie, to save from extinction their exist- 
ence as fractions of the middle class. They 
are therefore not revolutionary, but con- 
servative. Nay more, they are reactionary, 
for they try to roll back the wheel of his- 
tory. If by chance they are revolutionary, 
they are so, only in view of their impending 
transfer into the proletariat, they thus de- 
fend not their present, but their future in- 
terests, they desert their own standpoint to 
place themselves at that of the proletariat. 

The "dangerous class," the social scum, 
that passively rotting mass thrown off by 
the lowest layers of old society, may, here 
and there, be swept into the movement by 
a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, 
however, prepare it far more for the part 
of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue. 

In the conditions of the proletariat, those 
of old society at large are already virtually 
swamped. The proletarian is without prop- 
erty; his relation to his wife and children 
has no longer anything in common with the 
bourgeois family-relations; modern indus- 
trial labour, modern subjection to capital, the 
same in England as in France, in America as 
in Germany, has stripped him of every trace 
of national character. Law, morality, re- 
ligion, are to him so many bourgeois preju- 


dices, behind which lurk in ambush just as 
many bourgeois interests. 

All the preceding classes that got the up- 
per hand, sought to fortify their already ac- 
quired status by subjecting society at large 
to their conditions of appropriation. The 
proletarians cannot become masters of the 
productive forces of society, except by abol- 
ishing their own previous mode of appropria- 
tion, and thereby also every other previous 
mode of appropriation. They have nothing 
of their own to secure and to fortify; their 
mission is to destroy all previous securities 
for, and insurances of, individual property. 

All previous historical movements were 
movements of minorities, or in the interest of 
minorities. The proletarian movement is 
the self-conscious, independent movement of 
the immense majority, in the interest of the 
immense majority. The proletariat, the low- 
est stratum of our present society, cannot 
stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole 
superincumbent strata of official society be- 
ing sprung into the air. 

Though not in substance, yet in form, the 
struggle of the proletariat with the bour- 
geoisie is at first a national struggle. The 
proletariat of each country must, of course, 
first of all settle matters with its own bour- 

In depicting the most general phases of 
the development of the proletariat, we traced 
the more or less veiled civil war, raging 
within existing society, up to the point where 


that war breaks ou.t into open revolution, 
and where the violent overthrow of the bour- 
geoisie, lays the foundation for the sway of 
the proletariat. 

Hitherto, every form of society has been 
based, as we have already seen, on the an- 
tagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. 
But in order to oppress a class, certain con- 
ditions must be assured to it under which it 
can, at least, continue its slavish existence. 
The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised 
himself to membership in the commune, just 
as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of 
feudal absolutism, managed to develop into 
a bourgeois. The modern labourer, on the 
contrary, instead of rising with the progress 
of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below . 
the conditions of existence of his own class.v 
He becomes a pauper, and pauperism devel- 
ops more rapidly than population and 
wealth. And here it becomes evident, that 
the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the 
ruling class in society, and to impose its 
conditions of existence upon society as an 
over-riding law. It is unfit to rule, because 
it is incompetent to assure an existence to 
its slave within his slavery, because it can- 
not help letting him sink into such a state, 
that it has to feed him, insead of being fed 
by him. Society can no longer live under 
this bourgeoisie, in other words, its exist- 
ence is no longer compatible with society. 

The essential condition for the existence, 
and for the sway of the bourgeois class, is 


the formation and augmentation of capital; 
the condition for capital is wage-labour. 
Wage-labour rests exclusively on competi- 
tion between the labourers. The advance of 
industry, whose involuntary promoter is the 
bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the la- 
bourers, due to competition, by their invol- 
untary combination, due to association. The 
development of Modern Industry, therefore, 
cuts from under its feet the very foundation 
on which the bourgeoisie produces and ap- 
propriates products. What the bourgeoisie 
therefore produces, above all, are its own 
grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of 
the proletariat are equally inevitable. 


In what relation do the Communists stand 
to the proletarians as a whole P 

The Communists do not form a separate 
party opposed to other working-class par- 

They have no interests separate and apart 
from those of the proletariat as a whole. 

They do not set up any sectarian principles 
of their own, by which to shape and mould 
the proletarian movement. 

The Communists are distinguished from 
the other working class parties by this only: 
1/ In the national struggles of the proleta- 
rians of the different countries, they point 
out and bring to the front the common inter- 


ests of the entire proletariat, independently 
of all nationality. 2. In the various stages 
of development wmcn tne struggle of the 
working class against the bourgeoisie has to 
pass through, they always and everywhere 
represent the interests of the movement as a 

The Communists, therefore, are on the one 
hand, practically, the most advanced and 
resolute section of the working class par- 
ties of every country, that section which 
pushes forward all others; on the other hand, 
theoretically, they have over the great mass 
of the proletariat the advantage of clearly 
understanding the line of march, the condi- 
tions, and the ultimate general results of the 
proletarian movement. 

The immediate aim of the Communists is 
the same as that of all the other proletarian 
parties: formation of the proletariat into a 
class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, 
conquest of political power by the proletariat. 

The theoretical conclusions of the Commun- 
ists are in no way based on ideas or prin- 
ciples that have been invented, or discov- 
ered, by this or that would-be universal re- 

They merely express, in general terms, ac- 
tual relations springing from an existing 
class struggle, from a historical movement 
going on under our very eyes. The abolition 
of existing property-relations is not at all a 
distinctive feature of Communism. 

All property relations in the past have con- 


tinually been subject to historical change 
consequent upon the change in historical 

The French Bevolution, for example, abol- 
ished feudal property in favour of bour- 
geois property. 

The distinguishing feature of Communism 
is not the abolition of property generally, 
but the abolition of bourgeois property. But 
modern bourgeois private property is the 
final and most complete expression of the 
system of producing and appropriating pro- 
ducts, that is based on class antagonism, on 
the exploitation of the many by the few. 

In this sense, the theory of the Commun- 
ists may be summed up in the single sen- 
tence: Abolition of private property. 

We Communists have been reproached with 
the desire of abolishing the right of person- 
ally acquiring property as the fruit of a 
man's own labour, which property is alleged 
to be the ground work of all personal free- 
dom, activity and independence. 

Hard-won, self -acquired, self -earned prop- 
erty! Do you mean the property of the petty 
artizan and of the small peasant, a form of 
property that preceded the bourgeois form? 
There is no need to abolish that; the develop- 
ment of industry has to a great extent al- 
ready destroyed it, and is still destroying it 

Or do you mean modern bourgeois private 

But does wage-labour create any property 


for the labourer? Not a bit. It creates cap- 
ital, i. e., that kind of property which ex- 
ploits wage-labour, and which cannot in- 
crease except upon condition of getting a 
new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploit- 
ation. Property, in its present form, is 
based on the antagonism of capital and 
wage-labour. Let us examine both sides of 
this antagonism. 

To be a capitalist, is to have not only a 
purely personal, but a social status in pro- 
duction. Capital is a collective product, and 
only by the united action of many members, 
nay, in the last resort, only by the united 
action of all members of society, can it be 
set in motion. 

Capital is therefore not a personal, it is a 
social power. 

When, therefore, capital is converted into 
common property, into the property of all 
members of society, personal property is not 
thereby transformed into social property. It 
is only the social character of the prop- 
erty that is changed. It loses its class-char- 

Let us now take wage-labour. 

The average price of wage-labour is the 
minimum wage, i. e., that quantum of the 
means of subsistence, which is absolutely re- 
quisite to keep the labourer in bare existence 
as a labourer. What, therefore, the wage- 
labourer appropriates by means of his la- 
bour, merely suffices to prolong and repro- 
duce a bare existence. We by no means in- 


tend to abolish this personal appropriation 
of the products of labour, an appropriation 
that is made for the maintenance and repro- 
duction of human life, and that leaves no 
surplus wherewith to command the labour of 
others. All that we want to do away with is 
the miserable character of this appropria- 
tion, under which the labourer lives merely 
to increase capital, and is allowed to live 
only in so far as the interest of the ruling 
class requires it. 

In bourgeois society, living labour is but 
a means to increase accumulated labour. In 
Communist society, accumulated labour is 
but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote 
the existence of the labourer. 

In bourgeois society, therefore, the past 
dominates the present; in communist society, 
the present dominates the past. In bour- 
geois society capital is independent and has 
individuality, while the living person is de- 
pendent and has no individuality. 

And the abolition of this state of things 
is called by the bourgeois, abolition of indi- 
viduality and freedom! And rightly so. The 
abolition of bourgeois, individuality, bour- 
geois independence, and bourgeois freedom is 
undoubtedly aimed at. 

By freedom is meant, under the present 
bourgeois conditions of production, free 
trade, free selling and buying. 

But if selling and buying disappears, free 
selling and buying disappears also. This 
talk about free selling and buying, and all 


the other "brave words" of our bourgeoisie 
about freedom in general, have a meaning, 
if any, only in contrast with restricted sell- 
ing and buying, with the fettered traders of 
the Middle Ages, but have no meaning when 
opposed to the Communistic abolition of buy- 
ing and selling, of the bourgeois conditions 
of production, and of the bourgeoisie itself. 

You are horrified at our intending to do 
away with private property. But in your ex- 
isting society, private property is already 
done away with for nine-tenths of the popu- 
lation; its existence for the few is solely due 
to its non-existence in the hands of those 
nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with 
intending to do away with a form of prop- 
erty, the necessary condition for whose ex- 
istence is, the non-existence of any property 
for the immense majority of society. 

In one word, you reproach us with intend- 
ing to do away with your property. Pre- 
cisely so: that is just what we intend. 

From the moment when labour can no 
longer be converted into capital, money, or 
rent, into a social power capable of being 
monopolised, i. e., from the moment when 
individual property can no longer be trans- 
formed into bourgeois property, into capi- 
tal, from that moment, you say, individual- 
ity vanishes. 

You must, therefore, confess that by "in- 
dividual" you mean no other person than the 
bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of 


property. This person must, indeed, be 
swept out of the way, and made impossible. 

Communism deprives no man of the power 
to appropriate the products of society: all 
that it does is to deprive him of the power 
to subjugate the labour of others by means 
of such appropriation. 

It has been objected, that upon the aboli- 
tion of private property all work will cease, 
and universal laziness will overtake us. 

According; to this, bourgeois society ought 
long ago to have gone to the dogs through 
sheer idleness; for those of its members who 
work, acquire nothing, and those who ac- 
quire anything, do not work. The whole of 
this objection is but another expression of 
the tautology: that there can no longer be 
any wage-labour when there is no longer any 

All objections urged against the Commun- 
istic mode of producing and appropriating 
material products, have, in the same way, 
been urged against the Communistic modes 
of producing and appropriating intellectual 
products. Just as, to the bourgeois, the dis- 
appearance of class property is the disap- 
pearance of production itself, so the disap- 
pearance of class culture is to him identical 
with the disappearance of all culture. 

That culture, the loss of which he laments, 
is, for the enormous majority, a mere train- 
ing to act as a machine. 

But don't wrangle with us so long as you 
a PPly> to our intended abolition of bourgeois 


property, the standard of your bourgeois no- 
tions of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your 
very ideas are but the outgrowth of the con- 
ditions of your bourgeois production and 
bourgeois property, just as your jurispru- 
dence is but the will of your class made into 
a law for all, a will, whose essential charac- 
ter and direction are determined by the eco- 
nomical conditions of existence of your class. 

The selfish misconception that induces you 
to transform into eternal laws of nature and 
of reason, the social forms springing from 
your present mode of production and form 
of property— historical relations that rise and 
disappear in the progress of production— this 
misconception you share with every ruling 
class that has preceded you. What you see 
clearly in the case of ancient property, what 
you admit in the case of feudal property, you 
are of course forbidden to admit in the case 
of your own bourgeois form of property. 

Abolition of the family! Even the most 
radical flare up at this infamous proposal 
of the . Communists. 

On what foundation is the present family, 
the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on 
private gain. In its completely developed 
form this family exists only, among the bour- 
geoisie. But this state of things finds its 
complement in the practical absence of the 
family among the proletarians, and in pub- 
lic prostitution. 

The bourgeois family will vanish as a v mat- 
ter of course when its complement vanishes, 


and both will vanish with the vanishing of 

Bo you charge us with wanting to stop 
the exploitation of children by their parents? 
To this crime we plead guilty. 

But, you will say, we destroy the most hal- 
lowed of relations, when we replace home 
education by social. 

And your education! Is not that also so- 
cial, and determined by the social conditions 
under which you educate, by the interven- 
tion, direct or indirect, of society by means 
of schools, &c.P The Communists have not 
invented the intervention of society in edu- 
cation; they do but seek to alter the char- 
acter of that intervention, and to rescue edu- 
cation from the influence of the ruling class. 

The bourgeois clap-trap about the family 
and education, about the hallowed co-rela- 
tion of parent and child, become all the more 
disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern 
Industry, all family ties among the proleta- 
rians are torn asunder, and their children 
transformed into simple articles of com- 
merce and instruments of labour. 

But you Communists would introduce com- 
munity of women, screams the whole bour- 
geoisie in chorus* 

The bourgeoisies in his wife a mere in- 
strument of production. He hears that the 
instruments of production are to be exploited 
in common, and, naturally, can come to no 
other conclusion, than that the lot of being 


common to all will likewise fall to the 

He has not even a suspicion that the real 
point aimed at is to do away with the status 
of women as mere instruments of production. 

For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous 
than the virtuous indignation of our bour- 
geois at the community of women which, 
they pretend, is to be openly and officially 
established by the Communists. The Com- 
munists have no need to introduce commun- 
ity of women; it has existed almost from time 

Our bourgeois, not content with having 
the wives and daughters of their proleta- 
rians at their disposal, not to speak of com- 
mon prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in 
seducing each others' wives. 

Bourgeois marriage is in reality a system 
of wives in common and thus, at the most, 
what the Communists might possibly be re- 
proached with, is that they desire to intro- 
duce, in substitution for a hypocritically con- 
cealed, an openly legalised community of 
women. For the rest, it is self-evident, that 
the abolition of the present system of pro- 
duction must bring with it the obolition of 
the community of women springing from 
that system, i. e., of prostitution both public 
and private. 

The Communists are further reproached 
with desiring to abolish countries and na- 

The working men have no country. We 


cannot take from them what they have not 
got. Since the proletariat must first of all 
acquire political supremacy, must rise to be 
the leading class of the nation, must con- 
stitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself 
national, though not in the bourgeois sense 
of the word. 

National differences, and antagonisms be- 
tween peoples, are daily more and more van- 
ishing, owing to the development of the 
bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the • 
world-market, to uniformity in the mode of 
production and in the conditions of life cor- 
responding thereto. 

The supremacy of the proletariat will cause 
them to vanish still faster. United action, 
of the leading civilised countries at least, is 
one of the first conditions for the emancipa- 
tion of the proletariat. 

In proportion as the exploitation of one in- 
dividual by another is put an end to, the 
exploitation of one nation by another will 
also be put an end to. In proportion as the 
antagonism between classes within the na- 
tion vanishes, the hostility of one nation to 
another will come to an end. 

The charges against Communism made 
from a religious, a philosophical, and gen- 
erally, from an ideological standpoint, are 
not deserving of serious examination. 

Does it require deep intuition to compre- 
hend that man's ideas, views, and concep- 
tions, in one word, man's consciousness, 
changes with every change in the conditions 


of his material existence, in his social rela- 
tions and in his social life? 

What else does the history of ideas prove, 
than that intellectual production changes in 
character in proportion as material produc- 
tion is changed? The ruling ideas of each 
age have ever been the ideas of its ruling 

When people speak of ideas that revolu- 
tionize society, they do but express the fact, 
that within the old society, the elements of a 
new one have been created, and that the dis- 
solution of the old ideas keeps even pace 
with the dissolution of the old conditions of 

When the ancient world was in its last 
throes, the ancient religions were overcome 
by Christianity. When Christian ideas suc- 
cumbed in the 18th century to rationalist 
ideas; feudal society fought its death-battle 
with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie. The 
ideas of religious liberty and freedom of 
conscience, merely gave expression to the 
sway of free competition within the domain 
of knowledge. 

"Undoubtedly," it will be said, "religious, 
moral, philosophical and juridical ideas have 
been modified in the course of historical de- 
velopment. But religion, morality, philoso- 
phy, political science, and law, constantly 
survived this change." 

"There are, besides, eternal truths, such as 
Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all 
states of society. But Communism abolishes 


eternal truth*, it abolishes all religion, and 
all morality, instead of constituting them 
on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradic- 
tion to all past historical experience." 

What does this accusation reduce itself to? 
The history of all past society has consisted 
in the development of class antagonisms, 
antagonisms that assumed different forms at 
different epochs. 

But whatever form they may have taken, 
one fact is common to all past ages, viz., the 
exploitation of one part of society by the 
other. No wonder, then, that the social con- 
sciousness of past ages, despite all the mul- 
tiplicity and variety it displays, moves with- 
in certain common forms, or general ideas, 
which cannot completely vanish except with 
the total disappearance of class antagonisms. 

The Communist revolution is the most rad- 
ical rupture with traditional property-rela- 
tions; no wonder that its development in- 
volves the most radical rupture with tradi- 
tional ideas. 

But let us have done with the bourgeois 
objections to Communism. 

We have seen above, that the first step in 
the revolution by the working class, is to 
raise the proletariat to the position of rul- 
ing class, to win the battle of democracy. 

The proletariat will use its political su- 
premacy, to wrest, by degrees, all capital 
from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instru- 
ments of production in the hands of the 
State, i. e., of the proletariat organised as 


the ruling class; and to increase the total of 
productive forces as rapidly as possible. 

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be 
effected except by means of despotic inroads 
on the rights of property, and on the condi- 
tions of bourgeois production; by means of 
measures, therefore, which appear econom- 
ically insufficient and untenable, but which, 
in the course of the movement, outstrip 
themselves, necessitate further inroads upon 
the old social order, and are unavoidable as 
a means of entirely revolutionising the mode 
of production. 

These measures will of course be different 
in different countries. 

Nevertheless in the most advanced coun- 
tries the following will be pretty generally 

1. Abolition of property in land and ap- 
plication of all rents of land to public pur- 

2. A heavy progressive or graduated in- 
come tax. 

3. Abolition of all right of inheritance. 

4. Confiscation of the property of all emi- 
grants and rebels. 

5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of 
the State, by means of a national bank with 
State capital and an exclusive monopoly. 

6. Centralisation of the means of communi- 
cation and transport in the hands of the 

7. Extension of factories and instruments 
of production owned by the State; the bring- 


ing into cultivation of waste lands, and the 
improvement of the soil generally in accord- 
ance win a common plan. 

8. Equal liability of all to labour. Es- 
tablishment of industrial armies, especially 
for agriculture. 

9. Combination of agriculture with manu- 
facturing industries; gradual abolition of the 
distinction between town and country, by a./ 
more equable distribution of the population 
over the country. 

10. Free education for all children in pub- 
lic schools. Abolition of children's factory 
labour in its present form. Combination of 
education with industrial production, etc., 

When, in the course of development, class 
distinctions have disappeared, and all pro- 
duction has been concentrated in the hands 
of a vast association of the whole nation, 
the public power will lose its political char- 
acter. Political power, properly so called, is 
merely the organised power of one class for 
oppressing another. If the proletariat dur- 
ing its contest with the bourgeoisie is com- 
pelled, by the force of circumstances, to or- 
ganise itself as a class, if, by means of a 
revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, 
and, as such, sweeps away by force the old 
conditions of production, then it will, along 
with these conditions, have swept away the 
conditions for the existence of class antag- 
onisms, and of classes generally, and will 


thereby have abolished its own supremacy 
as a class. 

In place of the old bourgeois society, with 
its classes and class antagonisms, we shall 
have an association, in which the free de- 
velopment of each is the condition for the 
free development of all. 



1. Reactionary Socialism* 

a. Feudal Socialism. 

Owing to their historical position, it be- 
came the vocation of the aristocracies of 
France and England to write pamphlets 
against modern bourgeois society. In the 
French revolution of July, 1830, and in the 
English reform agitation, these aristocracies 
again succumbed to the hateful upstart. 
Thenceforth, a serious political contest was 
altogether out of the question. A literary 
battle alone remained possible. But even in 
the domain of literature the old cries of the 
restoration period * had become impossible. 

In order to arouse sympathy, the aristoc- 
racy were obliged to lose sight, apparently, 
of their own interests, and to formulate their 
indictment against the bourgeoisie in the in- 
terest of the exploited working class alone. 
Thus the aristocracy took their revenge by 

♦Not the English Restoration 1660 to 1689, but the 
French Restoration 1814 to 1830. 


singing lampoons on their new master, and 
whispering in his ears sinister prophecies of 
coming catastrophe. 

In this way arose feudal socialism: half 
lamentation, half lampoon; half echo of the 
past, half menace of the future; at times, 
by its bitter, witty and incisive criticism, 
striking the bourgeoisie to the very hearts 9 
core, but always ludicrous in its effect, 
through total incapacity to comprehend the 
march of modern history. 

The aristocracy, in order to rally the people 
to them, waved the proletarian alms-bag in 
front for a banner. But the people, so often 
as it joined them, saw on their hindquarters 
the old feudal coats of arms, and deserted 
with loud and irreverent laughter. 

One section of the French Legitimists, and 
"Young England," exhibited this spectacle. 

In pointing out that their mode of * ex- 
ploitation was different to that of the bour- 
geoisie, the feudalists forget that they ex- 
ploited under circumstances and conditions 
that were quite different, and that are now 
antiquated. In showing that, under their 
rule, the modern proletariat never existed, 
they forget that the modern bourgeoisie is 
the necessary offspring of their own form of 

For the rest, so little do they conceal the 
reactionary character of their criticism, that 
their chief accusation against the bourgeoisie 
amounts to this, that under the bourgeois 
regime a class is being developed, which is 


destined to cut up root and branch the old 
order of society. 

What they upbraid the bourgeoisie with 
is not so much that it creates a proletariat, 
as that it creates a revolutionary proletariat. 

In political practice, therefore, they join in 
all coercive measures against the working- 
class; and in ordinary life, despite their 
high f alutin phrases, they stoop to pick up 
the golden apples dropped from the tree of 
industry, and to barter truth, love, and hon- 
our for traffic in wool, beetroot-sugar, and 
potato spirit. * 

As the parson has ever gone hand in hand 
with the landlord, so has Clerical Socialism 
with Feudal Socialism. 

Nothing is easier than to give Christian 
asceticism a Socialist tinge. Has not Chris- 
tianity declaimed against private property, 
against marriage, against the State? Has it 
not preached in the place of these, charity 
and poverty, celibacy and mortification of the 
flesh, monastic life and Mother Church? 
Christian Socialism is but the Holy Water 
with which the priest consecrates the heart- 
burnings of the aristocrat. 

♦This applies chiefly to Germany where the 
landed aristocracy and squirearchy have large 
portions of their estates cultivated for their own 
account by stewards, and arc, moreover, extensive 
beetroot-sugar manufacturers and distillers of po- 
tato spirits. The wealthier British aristocracy 
are, as yet, rather above that; but they, too, 
know how to make up for declining rents by 
lending their names to floaters of more or less 
shady joint-stock companies. 


b. Petty Bourgeois Socialism. 

The feudal aristocracy was not the only 
class that was ruined by the bourgeoisie, not 
the only class whose conditions of existence 
pined and perished in the atmosphere of mod- 
ern bourgeois society. The medieval bur- 
gesses and the small peasant bourgeoisie, 
were the precursors of the modern bour- 
geoisie. In those countries which are but 
little developed, industrially and commer- 
cially, these two classes still vegetate side 
by side with the rising bourgeoisie. 

In countries where modern civilisation has 
become fully developed, a new class of petty 
bourgeois has been formed, fluctuating be- 
tween proletariat and bourgeoisie, and ever 
renewing itself as a supplementary part of 
bourgeois society. The individual members 
of this class, however, are being constantly 
hurled down into the proletariat by the ac- 
tion of competition, and, as modern industry 
develops, they even see the moment ap- 
proaching when they will completely disap- 
pear as an independent section of modern so- 
ciety, to be replaced, in manufactures, agri- 
culture and commerce, by overlookers, bail- 
iffs and shopmen. 

In countries, like France, where the peas- 
ants constitute far more than half of the 
population, it was natural that writers who 
sided with the proletariat against the bour- 
geoisie, should use, in their criticism of the 
bourgeois regime, the standard of the peasant 
and petty bourgeois, and from the stand- 


point of these intermediate classes should 
take up the cudgels for the working-class. 
Thus arose petty bourgeois Socialism. Sis- 
mondi was the head of this school, not only 
in France, but also in England. 

This school of Socialism dissected with 
great acuteness the contradictions in the con- 
ditions of modern production. It laid bare 
the hypocritical apologies of economists. It 
proved, incontrovertibly, the disastrous ef- 
fects of machinery and division of labour; 
the concentration of capital and land in a 
few hands; overproduction and crises; it 
pointed out the inevitable ruin of the petty 
bourgeois and peasant, the misery of the 
proletariat, the anarchy in production, the 
crying inequalities in the distribution of 
wealth, the industrial war of extermination 
between nations, the dissolution of old moral 
bonds, of the old family relations, of the old 

In its positive aims, however, this form of 
Socialism aspires either to restoring the old 
means of production and of exchange, and 
with them the old property relations, and the 
old society, or to cramping the modern means 
of production and of exchange, within the 
frame work of the old property relations that 
have been, and were bound to be, exploded 
by those means. In either case, it is both 
reactionary and Utopian. 

Its last words are: corporate guilds for 
manufacture; patriarchal relations in agri- 


Ultimately, when stubborn historical facts 
had dispersed all intoxicating effects of self- 
deception, this form of Socialism ended in a 
miserable fit of the blues. 

German or "True" Socialism. 

The Socialist and Communist literature of 
Trance, a literature that originated under 
the pressure of a bourgeoisie in power, and 
that was the expression of the struggle 
against this power, was introduced into Ger- 
many at a time when the bourgeoisie, in 
that country, had just begun its contest with 
feudal absolutism. 

German philosophers, would-be philosoph- 
ers, and beaux esprits, eagerly seized on this 
literature, only forgetting, that when these 
writings immigrated from France into Ger- 
many, French social conditions had not im- 
migrated along with them. In contact with 
German social conditions, this French litera- 
ture lost all its immediate practical signifi- 
cance, and assumed a purely literary aspect. 
Thus, to the German philosophers of the 
Eighteenth Century, the demands of the first 
French Revolution were nothing more than 
the demands of "Practical Reason" in gen- 
eral, and the utterance of the will of the 
revolutionary French bourgeoisie signified in 
their eyes the laws of pure Will, of Will as it 
was bound to be, of true human Will gen- 

The work of the German literati consisted 
solely in bringing the new French ideas into 


harmony with their ancient philosophical 
conscience, or rather, in annexing the French 
ideas without deserting their own philo- 
sophic point of view. 

This annexation took place in the same 
way in which a foreign language is appro- 
priated, namely by translation. 

It is well known how the monks wrote silly 
lives of Catholic Saints over the manuscripts 
on which the classical works of ancient 
heathendom had been written. The German 
literati reversed this process with the pro- 
fane French literature. They wrote their 
philosophical nonsense beneath the French 
original. For instance, beneath the French 
criticism of the economic functions of money, 
they wrote "Alienation of Humanity," and 
beneath the French criticism of the bour- 
geois State they wrote, "Dethronement of the 
Category of the General," and so forth. 

The introduction of these philosophical 
phrases at the back of the French historical 
criticisms they dubbed "Philosophy of Ac- 
tion," "True Socialism," "German Science of 
Socialism," "Philosophical Foundation of So- 
cialism," and so on. 

The French Socialist and Communist litera- 
ture was thus completely emasculated. And, 
since it ceased in the hands of the German 
to express the struggle of one class with the 
other, he felt conscious of having overcome 
"French one-sidedness" and of representing, 
not true requirements, but the requirements 
of Truth, not the interests of the proletariat, 


but the interests of Human Nature, of Man 
in general, who belongs to no class, has no 
reality, who exists only in the misty realm 
of philosophical phantasy. 

This German Socialism, which took its 
school-boy task so seriously and solemnly, 
and extolled its poor stock-in-trade in such 
mountebank fashion, meanwhile gradually 
lost its pedantic innocence. 

The nght of the German, and, especially, of 
the Prussian bourgeoisie, against feudal aris- 
tocracy and absolute monarchy, in other 
words, the liberal movement, became more 

By this, the long-wished-for opportunity 
was offered to "True Socialism" of confront- 
ing the political movement with the socialist 
demands, of hurling the traditional anathe- 
mas against liberalism, against representa- 
tive government, against bourgeois competi- 
tion, bourgeois freedom of the press, bour- 
geois legislation, bourgeois liberty and 
equality, and of preaching'to the masses that 
they had nothing to gain, and everything to 
lose, by this bourgeois movement. German 
Socialism forgot, in the nick of time, that 
the French criticism, whose silly echo it was, 
presupposed the existence of modern bour- 
geois society, with its corresponding eco- 
nomic conditions of existence, and the po- 
litical constitution adapted thereto, the very 
things whose attainment was the object of 
the pending struggle in Germany. 

To the absolute governments, with their 


following of parsons, professors, country 
squires and officials, it served as a welcome 
scarecrow against the threatening bour- 

It was a sweet finish after the bitter pills 
of floggings and bullets, with which these 
same governments, just at that time, dosed 
the German working-class risings. 

While this "True" Socialism thus served 
the governments as a weapon for fighting 
the German bourgeoisie, it, at the same time, 
directly represented a reactionary interest, 
the interest of the German Philistines. In 
Germany the petty bourgeois class, a re- 
lique of the 16th century, and since then 
constantly cropping up again under various 
forms, is the real social basis of the exist- 
ing state of things. 

To preserve this class, is to preserve the ex- 
isting state of things in Germany. The in- 
dustrial and political supremacy of the bour- 
geoisie threatens it with certain destruc- 
tion; on the one hand, from the concentra- 
tion of capital; on the other, from the rise 
of a revolutionary proletariat. "True" So- 
cialism appeared to kill these two birds with 
one stone. It spread like an epidemic. 

The robe of speculative cobwebs, embroid- 
ered with flowers of rhetoric, steeped in the 
dew of sickly sentiment, this transcendental 
robe in which the German Socialists wrapped 
their sorry "eternal truths" all skin and 
bone, served to wonderfully increase the sale 
of their goods amongst such a public. 


And on its part, German Socialism recog- 
nised, more and more, its own calling as the 
bombastic representative of the petty bour- 
geois Philistine. 

It proclaimed the German nation to be the 
model nation, and the German petty Philis- 
tine to be the typical man. To every vil- 
lainous meanness of this model man it gave 
a hidden, higher, socialistic interpretation, 
the exact contrary of its true character. It 
went to the extreme length of directly oppos- 
ing the "brutally destructive" tendency of 
Communism, and of proclaiming its supreme 
and impartial contempt of all class strug- 
gles. With very few exceptions, all the so- 
called Socialist and Communist publications 
that now (1847) circulate in Germany be- 
long to the domain of this foul and enervat- 
ing literature. 

2. Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism. 

A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of re- 
dressing social grievances, in order to secure 
the continued existence of bourgeois society. 

To this section belong economists, philan- 
thropists, humanitarians, improvers of the 
condition of the working class, organisers of 
charity, members of societies for the preven- 
tion of cruelty to animals, temperance fa- 
natics, hole and corner reformers of every 
imaginable kind. This form of Socialism 
has, moreover, been worked out into com- 
plete systems. 


We may cite Proudhon's "Philosophic de 
la Misere" as an example of this form. 

The socialistic bourgeois want all the ad- 
vantages of modern social conditions with- 
out the struggles and dangers necessarily re- 
sulting therefrom. They desire the existing 
state of society minus its revolutionary and 
disintegrating elements. They wish for a 
bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bour- 
geoisie naturally conceives the world in 
which it is supreme to be the best; and bour- 
geois socialism develops this comfortable 
conception into various more or less com- 
plete systems. In requiring the proletariat 
to carry out such a system, and thereby to 
march straightway into the social New Jeru- 
salem, it but requires in reality, that the 
proletariat should remain within the bounds 
of existing society, but should cast away all 
its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie. 

A second and more practical, but iess sys- 
tematic form of this socialism sought to de- 
preciate every revolutionary movement in 
the eyes of the working class, by showing 
that no mere political reform, but only a 
change in the material conditions of exist- 
ence, in economical relations, could be of any 
advantage to them. By changes in the ma- 
terial conditions of existence, this form of 
Socialism, however, by no means understands 
abolition of the bourgeois relations of pro- 
duction, an abolition that can be effected 
only by a revolution, but administrative 
reforms, based on the continued existence of 


these relations; reforms, therefore, that in no 
respect affect the relations between capital 
and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, 
and simplify the administrative work, of 
bourgeois government. 

Bourgeois Socialism attains adequate ex- 
pression, when, and only when, it becomes a 
mere figure of speech. 

Free trade: for the benefit of the working 
class. Protective duties: for the benefit of 
the working class. Prison Beform: for the 
benefit of the working class. This is the last 
word and the only seriously meant word of 
bourgeois Socialism. 

It is summed up in the phrase: the bour- 
geois is a bourgeois— for the benefit of the 
working class. 

3. Critical-Utopian Socialism and Commun- 

We do not here refer to that literature 
which, in every great modern revolution, 
has always given voice to the demands of 
the proletariat: such as the writings of Ba- 
beauf and others. 

The first direct attempts of the proletariat 
to attain its own ends, made in times of 
universal excitement, when feudal society 
was being overthrown, these attempts neces- 
sarily failed, owing to the then undevel- 
oped state of the proletariat, as well as to 
the absence of the economic conditions for 
its emancipation, conditions that had yet to 
be produced, and could be produced by the 


impending bourgeois epoch alone. The revo- 
lutionary literature that accompanied these 
first movements of the proletariat had nec- 
essarily a reactionary character. It incul- 
cated universal asceticism and social level- 
ing in its crudest form. 

The Socialist and Communist systems 
properly so called, those of St. Simon, Four- 
ier, Owen and others, spring into existence 
in the early undeveloped period, described 
above, of the struggle between proletariat 
and bourgeoisie, (see section I. Bourgeoisie 
and Proletariat). 

The founders of these systems see, indeed, 
the class antagonisms, as well as the action 
of the decomposing elements in the prevail- 
ing form of society. But the proletariat, as 
yet in its infancy, offers to them the spec- 
tacle of a class without any historical initia- 
tive or any independent political movement. 

Since the development of class antagonism 
keeps even pace with the development of in- 
dustry, the economic situation, as they find 
it, does not as yet offer to them the material 
conditions for the emancipation of the prole- 
tariat. They therefore search after a new 
social science, after new social laws, that are 
to create these conditions. 

Historical action is to yield to their per- 
sonal inventive action, historically created 
conditions of emancipation to phantastic 
ones, and the gradual, spontaneous class-or- 
ganisation of the proletariat to an organisa- 
tion of society specially contrived by these 


inventors. Future history resolves itself, in 
their eyes, into the propaganda and the prac- 
tical carrying out of their social plans. 

In the formation of their plans they are 
conscious of caring chiefly for the interests 
of the working-class, as being the most suf- 
fering class. Only from the point of view 
of being the most suffering class does the 
proletariat exist for them. 

The undeveloped state of the class strug- 
gle, as well as their own surroundings, cause 
Socialists of this kind to consider themselves 
far superior to all class antagonisms. They 
want to improve the condition of every mem- 
ber of society, even that of the most fa- 
voured. Hence, they habitually appeal to 
society at large, without distincton of class; 
nay, by preference, to the ruling class. For 
how can people, when once they understand 
their system, fail to see in it the best pos- 
sible plan of the best possible state of so- 

Hence, they reject all political, and espe- 
cially all revolutionary action; they wish to 
attain their ends by peaceful means, and 
endeavour, by small experiments, necessa- 
rily doomed to failure, and by the force of 
example, to pave the way for the new social 

Such phantastic pictures of future society, 
painted at a time when the proletariat is still 
in a very undeveloped state, and has but a 
phantastic conception of its own position, 
correspond with the first instinctive yearn- 


Ings of that class for a general reconstruc- 
tion of society. 

But these Socialist and Communist publi- 
cations contain also a critical element. They 
attack every principle of existing society. 
Hence they are full of the most valuable ma- 
terials for the enlightenment of the working 
class. The practical measures proposed in 
them, such as the abolition of the distinc- 
tion between town and country, of the fam- 
ily, of the carrying on of industries for the 
account of private individuals, and of the 
wage system, the proclamation of social har- 
mony, the conversion of the functions of the 
State into a mere superintendence of produc- 
tion, all these proposals point solely to the 
disappearance of class-antagonisms which 
were, at that time, only just cropping up, 
and which, in these publications, are recog- 
nised under their earliest, indistinct and un- 
defined forms only. These proposals, there- 
fore, are of a purely Utopian character. 

The significance of Critical-Utopian So- 
cialism and Communism bears an inverse re- 
lation to historical development. In propor- 
tion as the modern class struggle develops 
and takes definite shape, this phantastic 
standing apart from the contest, these phan- 
tastic attacks on it lose all practical value 
and all theoretical justification. Therefore, 
although the originators of these systems 
were, in many respects, revolutionary, their 
disciples have, in every case, formed mere 
reactionary sects. They hold fast by the orig- 


inal views of their masters, in opposition to 
the progressive historical development of the 
proletariat. They, therefore, endeavour, and 
that consistently, to deaden the class strug- 
gle and to reconcile the class antagonisms. 
They still dream of experimental realisation 
of their social Utopias, of founding isolated 
"phalansteres," of establishing "Home Colo- 
nies," of setting up a "Little Icaria"*— duo- 
decimo editions of the New Jerusalem, and 
to realise all these castles in the air, they 
are compelled to appeal to the feelings and 
purses of. the bourgeois. By degrees they 
sink into the category of the reactionary 
conservative Socialists depicted above, dif- 
fering from these only by more systematic 
pedantry, and by their fanatical and super- 
stitious belief in the miraculous effects of 
their social science. 

They, therefore, violently oppose all po- 
litical action on the part of the working 
class; such action, according to them, can 
only result from blind unbelief in the new 

The Owenites in England, and the Four- 
ierists in France, respectively oppose the 
Chartists and the "Beformistes." 



Section II. has made clear the relations of 
the Communists to the existing working 
class parties, such as the Chartists in Eng- 
land and the Agrarian Reformers in Amer- 

*Phalansteres were socialist colonies on the plan 
of Charles Fourier. Icaria was the name given 
by Cabot to his Utopia and, later on, to his Ameri- 
can Communist colony. 


The Communists light for the attainment 
of the immediate aims, for the enforcement 
of the momentary interests of the working 
class; but in the movement of the present, 
they also represent and take care of the future 
of that movement. In France the Commun- 
ists ally themselves with the Social-Demo- 
crats,* against the conservative and radical 
bourgeoisie, reserving, however, the right to 
take up a critical position in regard to 
phrases and illusions traditionally handed 
down from the great Bevolution. 

In Switzerland they support the Radicals, 
without losing sight of the fact that this 
party consists of antagonistic elements, part- 
ly of Democratic Socialists, in the French 
sense, partly of radical bourgeois. 

In Poland they support the party that in- 
sists on an agrarian revolution, as the prime 
condition for national emancipation, that 
party which fomented the insurrection of 
Cracow in 1846. 

In Germany they fight with the bourgeoisie 
whenever it acts in a revolutionary way, 
against the absolute monarchy, the feudal 
squirearchy, and the petty bourgeoisie. 

But they never cease, for a single instant, 
to instill into the working class the clearest 
possible recognition of the hostile antago- 
nism between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in 
order that the German workers may straight- 
way use, as so many weapons against the 
bourgeoisie, the social and political condi- 
tions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily 
introduce along with its supremacy, and in 
order that, after the fall of the reactionary 

♦The party then represented in parliament by 
Ledru-Rollln. in literature by Louis Blatic, in the 
daily press by the R6forme. The nw.e of Social 
Democracy signified, with these its Inventors, a 
section of the Democratic or Repuf|!aan party 
more or less tinged with Socialism. 


classes in Germany, the fight against the 
bourgeoisie itself may immediately begin. 

The Communists turn their attention chief- 
ly to Germany, because that country is on 
the eve of a bourgeois revolution, that is 
bound to be carried out under more advanced 
conditions of European civilisation, and 
with a more developed proletariat, than that 
of England was in the seventeenth, and of 
France in the eighteenth century, and be- 
cause the bourgeois revolution in Germany 
will be but the prelude to an immediately 
following proletarian revolution. 

In short, the Communists everywhere sup- 
port every revolutionary movement against 
the existing social and political order of 

In all these movements they bring to the 
front, as the leading question in each, the 
property question, no matter what its de- 
gree of development at the time. 

Finally, they labour everywhere for the 
union and agreement of the democratic par- 
ties of all countries. 

The Communists disdain to conceal their 
views and aims. They openly declare that 
their ends can be attained only by the forci- 
ble overthrow of all existing social condi- 
tions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a 
Communistic revolution. The proletarians 
have nothing to lose but their chains. They 
have a world to win. 

Working men of all countries unite! 

No Compromise 

No Political Trading 











The following pamphlet is not an address, as 
was my first one on Tactics;* but it is occasioned 
by an address which I delivered this summer, at 
the request of my Berlin constituents, on the last 
Bavarian legislative elections in particular and 
on compromises in general. For some time past 
and from different directions persistent efforts 
have been made to bring our party nearer to the 
other political parties; this, together with the 
incessant demand for taking part in the Prussian 
legislative elections, has aroused in a part of the 
Berlin voters, as well as among the comrades all 
over Germany, an apprehension that there may 
exist in the party certain tendencies which, though 
not having that aim, nevertheless must have the 
result, of leading the Social Democratic party 
over into the field of spoils politics, pure and sim- 
ple. This apprehension was nourished by Bern- 
stein's book of repentance, a solemn renunciation 
of social democratic principles by a comrade who 
up to that time had been considered a guardian 
of our principles, and by his recantation of the 
social democratic heresy and his reconfession 
of faith in the bourgeois philosophy as the only 
means of salvation. Bernstein's pamphlet in it- 
self is insignificant and contains not a single 
new, original idea, but merely acknowledges as 
correct what the enemies of the Social Democ- 
racy for decades past have said against it a hun- 
dred times; yet, taken in connection with the 
confusing agitation for taking part in the Prus- 
sian legislative elections and with the unfortunate 
Isegrim articles against the militia system and 

♦On the Political Stand of the Social Democracy, 
especially with Reference to the Reichstag. Berlin, 
1893. Vorwaerts Publishing House. 


in favor of militarism, the pamphlet, considered 
as a symptom, acquired an importance which 
could not be ignored. 

The party was engaged in a fight against the 
penitentiary bill, and other attempts at coercion 
on the part of the dominant reactionists, and 
was just beginning to forget Schippelism and 
Bernsteinism, expecting from the next party con- 
vention a thorough shaking up and cleaning out, 
when suddenly the report came of the political 
" cow-trade' ' or log-rolling in Bavaria. We 
have been accustomed to Bavarian peculiarities 
for years; we know that Bavarian affairs, and in 
general South Qerman affairs, are not to be 
measured according to the North Qerman stand- 
ard; and no one can be more tolerant than the 
Berlin comrades who, in front of the gates of 
the Imperial Capital, have to deal with peculiari- 
ties which, though of a different kind, are quite 
as striking as the Bavarian possibly can be. We 
know particularly that where the religious ele- 
ment cuts a figure in politics and the clerical 
Center party prevents a normal political develop- 
ment, class-consciousness is easily crowded out 
by other considerations. And also outside of 
Bavaria we have heard of some very strange cam- 
paign alliances. Nevertheless, what happened 
this time in Bavaria was in its way an innova- 
tion. A formal alliance was entered into, not 
underhanded, not over the heads of the mass by 
particular comrades, but by one party with an- 
other party, by the leaders of the Social Democ- 
racy in Bavaria, with the leaders of the Center 
party in Bavaria. 

This event stirred up a great commotion and 
caused the most intense anxiety everywhere in 
party circles. At first the astonishment, the dis- 
approval, found no expression. As the legislative 
elections in Bavaria are indirect, one could not 
Immediately raise a protest, for in so doing one 
would only have embarrassed the Bavarian com- 


rades, who were then in the midst of the fight, 
and would perhaps have incurred a grave respon- 
sibility. Therefore, the Bavarian supporters of 
the political cow trade had the field to themselves 
for the time being. Under such circumstances, 
it is easy to understand that the apprehensions 
of comrades, who thought they saw indications 
of a designed and methodical stagnation of the 
party, were aroused to the utmost. Berlin com- 
rades turned to me. I explained why the Vor- 
waerts hud not yet taken a stuud towurds tho 
Bavarian cow trade, but made no secret of the 
fact that my views on compromises were not the 
same as those of the editorial staff; I wrote an 
article, which in spite of its unusually calm tone, 
was looked upon by the Bavarian comrades as 
a grievous attack; I also explained my views in 
a meeting of the voters 1 club of the Sixth Berlin 
election district. Although, for the sake of sweet 
peace, I prevented a vote of censure for the 
Bavarian comrades, nevertheless both myself and 
the Berlin comrades were, on account of this 
meeting, violently attacked by the Bavarian party 
members, and not always in elegant terms. One 
who feels that he is in the wrong generally makes 
up for the weakness of his case by the violence of 
his speech. I have always taken the insolence of 
my opponents as an involutary compliment, and 
never bothered myself about it. 

About the time of the Bavarian cow trade the 
entrance of a socialist — Millerand — into a reac- 
tionary bourgeois cabinet took place in France 
and was the cause of a split in the French Social 
Democracy. The ablest of our French comrades, 
— Guesde, Lafargue and Yaillant, the founders of 
the modern socialist movement in France, — pro- 
tested against the entrance of Millerand into the 
cabinet of the reactionary capitalist, Waldeck- 
Rousseau, and of Qallifet, the butcher of the 
Communists; they withdrew from the socialist 


/group, which they were convinced had abandoned 
the platform of the class 1 struggle. 

Here we could see the dangers of a compro- 
mise policy in their life-size and entire outlines. 
In the meantime an article appeared in For- 
waert8, in the issue of July 28, entitled "Mo- 
mentary Alliances," which sought to justify the 
compromise policy. I therefore determined, at 
the request of comrades in Berlin and vicinity, to 
write a pamphlet and express myself, as I know, 
in harmony with an overwhelming majority of 
the Berlin comrades, on the question of tactics, 
especially on compromises and alliances; and 
thus, so far as in my power lies, afford the party 
an opportunity, before the party convention is 
held, to realize in their proper connection and in 
their entire extent the consequences which an 
abandonment of the time-tried policy of our 
party would bring about. , 

When I speak here of our policy, I use the 
word without regard to anything immaterial and 
superficial, but in the sense which since the begin- 
.ning of the party it has had for us in contrast to 
all other parties, — in the sense of the policy of 
the class struggle, which has very often changed 
in form, but in substance has remained the same, 
— our unique proletarian class policy, which sep- 
arates us from all other political parties in tho 
world of bourgeois society and excludes us from 
intercourse with them. 

The pamphlet is a vacation task. It was writ- 
ten on the move in the true sense of the word, 
in house and field, on mountains, in the cars, here 
and there. This, of course, necessarily marred its 
unity, but shows also how seriously I took the 
matter, to sacrifice for it the quiet of my vaca- 

August, 1899. 

• »o ooMPBomaii 


By Wilhelm Liebknecht. 

(Published at the Bequest of the Members of 
the Social Democratic Party in Berlin and 


t The question of compromises has, in one form 
or another, engaged the attention of our party 
ever since its entrance into the political arena. 
But I have not now the time nor is this the place 
for a complete historical presentation of the sub- 
ject. The present state of party law in reference 
to the compromise question is expressed in the 
resolutions of the party conventions held at 
Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart. The resolu- 
tion of the Cologne convention, passed October 
28, 1893, is as follows: 

"Whereas, The three-class electoral system of 
Prussia, which, according to Bismarck's own ex- 
pression, is the most wretched of all systems of 
election, makes it impossible for the Social Dem- 
ocracy to take an independent part in the elec- 
tions for the Prussian legislature with any pros- 
pect of success; and whereas, it contradicts the 
principles heretofore followed by the party in 
elections to enter into compromises with hostile 
parties, because this would necessarily lead to 
demoralization and to strife and dissension in the 
ranks of the party; therefore, resolved, that it 
is the duty of the party members in Prussia to 
abstain from participation in the election for 
the legislature. 

And whereas, the electoral systems in the scp- 


arate states constitute an excellent specimen of 
reactionary election laws and particularly the 
plutocratic character of the three-class electoral 
system in Prussia makes it impossible for the 
laboring class to send its own representatives 
to the legislature; therefore, the convention calls 
upon the party members to begin a systematic 
and energetic agitation in all the separate states 
for the introduction of universal, equal, recret 
and direct suffrage in elections for the legislature 
as demanded by our party platform.' ' j 

Four years later, on October 9, 1897, the Ham- 
burg convention passed the following resolution: 

"The resolution of the Cologne convention 
forbidding the Prussian members of the party to 
participate in the legislative elections under the 
three-class system of voting, is repealed. Par- 
ticipation in the next Prussian legislative elec- 
tions is recommended everywhere where the con- 
ditions render it possible for the party members 
to do so. Just how far it is possible to take part 
in the elections in the separate election districts 
much be decided by the party members of each 
election district according to local circumstances. 

Compromises and alliances with other parties 
must not be entered into." 

The repeal of the Cologne resolution was 
passed by 160 votes against 50. The entire reso- 
lution was passed by 145 votes against 64, one 
delegate not voting. 

After the vote on the separate parts of the 
resolution and after the vote on the whole, in 
order to prevent any question from arising as to 
the practical meaning of the Hamburg resolution, 
the chairman, Singer, with the express consent of 
Bebel, who had offered the resolution, and with- 
out objection by anyone, and with unanimous 
consent, entered on the minutes, made the follow- 
ing announcement: 

"I wish to state that the convention is unani- 
mous in the view that under the resolution 


adopted here no participation in the elections can 
take place except by putting up social demo- 
cratic candidates." 

That comrades should, in the first instance, vote 
for candidates of the liberal party was, as Bebel 
remarked, absolutely excluded, and would belong 
under the head of compromises and alliances with 
other parties. 

In spite of the clear language of the resolution 
and of the clear and authoritative interpretation 
thereof on a point susceptible of different con- 
structions, the convention had hardly adjourned 
when differences of opinion began to be ex- 
pressed. In sharp contradiction to the facts and 
to the record of the proceedings, it was denied 
that voting in the first instance by our party for 
candidates of the liberal party would be a com- 
promise; and the claim was even made that 
the convention had been bulldozed by Singer. 

Last year's convention was held at Stuttgart 
immediately before the elections for the Prussian 
legislature. There was such a difference of opin- 
ion that it was not possible to think of disposing 
of the matter, especially as the order of business 
before the convention was overloaded without 
that. So nothing could be done but leave the 
final disposition of the matter for a future con- 
vention, and for the present pass an emergency 

On October 5, 1898, the Stuttgart convention 
adopted unanimously the following resolution, 
agreed upon by a committee, to- wit: 

"Participation in the Prussian legislative elec- 
tions under the three-class electoral system can- 
not be regarded, as is the case in elections for 
the Reichstag, as a marshaling of forces; it is 
not a means of attaining a moral effect by the 
number of our votes, but is only a means of 
attaining certain practical results, especially 
warding off the danger of allowing the most hide- 
bound reactionists to get a majority In the 


legislature. Proceeding from this view, the con- 
vention declares that participation in the Prussian 
legislative elections is not required in all elec- 
tion districts, the less so as the shortness of the 
time which remains before the Prussian legisla- 
tive elections makes it impossible to bring to- 
gether the widely divergent views now existing 
within the party on this question, so to make 
harmonious action by the party possible. Under 
these circumstances the convention leaves it to 
the comrades of the separate election districts 
to decide on the question of participation. If it 
is decided in an election district to take part, and 
if a proposition is made to support candidates of 
our political opponents, then the candidates must 
pledge themselves, in case of their election to 
the legislature, to work for the introduction of the 
universal, equal, direct and secret ballot, for the 
elections to the legislature, the same as it now 
exists for the elections to the Reichstag, and to 
resist energetically all measures in the legislature 
which tend to diminish or abolish the existing 
rights of the people in the separate states. All 
propositions introduced under the head of 'Prus- 
sian Legislative Elections ' shall be considered 
disposed of by the adoption of this resolution." 
This was the Stuttgart resolution. As can be 
seen, it is only temporary and leaves the question 
of tactics exactly on the basis of the Hamburg 
resolution. In spite of that, the comrades of 
some election districts considered themselves jus- 
tified in making, contrary to this resolution, ar- 
rangements with other parties which were clearly 
compromises within the meaning of the Ham- 
burg resolution. And the latest events in Bavaria, 
the alliance with the Center party, which was 
characterized as a cow trade by the comrades 
themselves, who took part in it, has shown that 
when once the thin end of the opportunist wedge 
has forced itself into the policy of the party the 
thick end soon follows. 



For our party and for our party tactics there 
is but one valid basis: the basis of the doss strug- 
gle, out of which the Social Democratic party 
has sprung up, and out of which alone it can 
draw the necessary strength to bid defiance to 
every storm and to all its enemies. The founders 
of our party, — Marx, Engels and Lassalle, — im- 
pressed upon the workingmen the necessity of 
the class character of our movement so deeply that 
down to a very recent time there were no consid- 
erable deviations or getting off the track. The 
Cologne resolution was called forth by a proposal 
made by Edward Bernstein, then living in Lon- 
don, and as editor of the Social Democrat hon- 
ored by the members of the party. 

Till the year 1803 there never was any talk in 
public about the possibility or advisability of tak- 
ing part in the Prussian legislative elections. In 
the beginning of the '80s, the cooperation of the 
Social Democracy with the political democrats 
was advocated on the quiet by the democrats 
of Frankfort for the purpose of gaining a socialist 
and a democratic representative for Frankfort in 
the legislature; but the proposition was declined, 
also on the quiet, without getting noised abroad. 
What turned the scale was this consideration, 
viz.: That the class character of the party would 
be weakened by an alliance of this "kind; aid 
that the advantage of gaining a representative 
would be far more than offset by the disadvantage 
of an alliance in a legislative election with a 
party which we are compelled to fight in the 
Reichstag election. The importance of a seat in 
the Prussian legislature was not overlooked by 
anyone. But it was looked upon as more import- 
ant that the representatives of the party should 
depend exclusively upon the strength of the party, 
and not upon an alliance with parties which 
might have momentarily a common interest with 


as, but which in their political make-up are hos- 
tile to us and will remain permanently hostile. 

Bernstein's proposal, which contemplated a 
participation of the Social Democracy in the 
Prussian legislative elections, found little response 
and no advocates; so that the resolution intro- 
duced and supported by Bebel against such par- 
ticipation was adopted unanimously. 

That the question of taking part in the Prussian 
legislative elections should come up again after 
many years and even lead to quite animated de- 
bates, appears at first sight unintelligible. But 
it is explained by two circumstances which I 
will here set forth. 

First. In reference to the Prussian three-class 
electoral system the views of many of the com- 
rades had in the course of time undergone a 
change. It had escaped the memory of some 
of them, here and there, that the logically and 
cunningly realized purpose of the three-class 
electoral system was to exclude with hermetic 
sealing all democratic thought and sentiment, 
and that the capitalistic era, which began about 
the same time with the introduction of the "most 
wretched of all electoral systems,'* had by creat- 
ing a class conscious proletariat rendered the vote 
of the socialist masses more insignificant than the 
vote of the democratic masses had been origin- 
ally. How badly many of the speakers (both men 
and women) at the Hamburg convention de- 
ceived themselves as to the working of the three- 
class electoral system is clear from the fact that 
some of them entertained the delusion that the 
reform of the Prussian legislative elections could 
be used as the means of a grand arousing of the 
masses. In the jubilation over the success which 
had been achieved under other non-democratic 
laws regulating legislative elections, especially in 
Saxony, many had forgotten that the Prussian 
three-class system made the publicity of the bal- 
lot obligatory, and thereby in advance practically 


disfranchised all who were dependent, either 
economically, socially or politically, that is, the 
great majority of the population, and by this 
means alone rendered it impossible for the masses 
to take part in the election or get up any general 

The optimistic self-deception in regard to the 
three-class electoral law went so far that not a 
few of the comrades imagined in all seriousness 
that we social democrats would be in a position 
by our own strength without fusion or even an 
alliance with other parties, to win a number, if 
only a small number, of seats. To-day no one is 
laboring under this delusion any longer. To-day 
everybody knows that we cannot win a single 
seat in the Prussian legislature without a com- 
promise or an alliance. It was different two 
years ago when the party convention, its majority 
being under the curse of optimistic self-deception, 
pronounced in favor of taking part in the Prus- 
sian legislative elections. Fortunately, however, 
the heads and supreme council of the party be- 
thought themselves of the origin and nature of 
the party and by an unqualified prohibition of all 
compromises and alliances with other parties 
sought to prevent the self-deception from causing 
steps which might injure the party and lead it 
astray into wrong paths. 

The Hamburg resolution has been called con- 
tradictory and illogical. True, if the party the 
same as before rejected all compromises and 
alliances with other parties, then there was no 
sense in repealing the Cologne resolution. The 
contradiction is explained, as already indicated, 
by the fact that a portion of the party deceived 
itself or was deceived as to the nature of the Prus- 
sian three-class election law. But from this con- 
tradiction to conclude, as has actually been done, 
that the party had more at heart its desire to par- 
ticipate in the Prussian legislative elections than 
its aversion to compromises, and that therefore, 


as a contradiction existed, it must be solved by 
unqualifiedly advocating participation in tbe elec- 
tions and by repealing the prohibition against 
compromises and election alliances; such a con- 
clusion gives evidence of just as little logic as 
of regard for the principles and history of the 

Second. This brings me to the second reason 
why the question of participation in the legisla- 
tive elections could become a matter of serious 
party strife. In certain circles there exists an 
inclination, or let us say an effort, to desert 
the platform of the class struggle and enter into 
the common arena of the other parties. As all the 
other parties stand upon the basis of a political 
state, therefore their field of activity is necessarUy 
confined to the spoils of politics. I do not say 
that the advocates of the new tactics all wish this: 
as to some of them I am convinced that they do 
not wish it. But others wish it; and it is no 
mere accident that it was just Bernstein who first 
proposed the participation of the social democ- 
racy in the Prussian legislative elections. This 
tactics corresponds perfectly with Bernstein's 
program which aims at the politicalization of the 
Social Democracy; whereas, it is decidedly Il- 
logical from the standpoint of those who do not 
wish to deny or destroy the militant character of 
our party as carrying on a class struggle. 


I do not hesitate to repeat Yny former declara- 
tion that a practical surrender of our party prin- 
ciples appears to me far more dangerous than all 
of Bernstein's theoretical will-o -the-wisps put 
together. It has been claimed that in the spoils 
parties political nerve has died out; that they 
have lost the spirit of freedom and justice. The 
claim certainly does not lack foundation, and yet 
that condition is no recent matter. Disregarding 


short periods, the German bourgeoisie never did 
have what is understood by "political nerve." But 
however that may be, it cannot be denied that we 
are now living under the influence of politico- 
economie conditions which tend to sharpen in 
the highest degree the economic and political 
antagonisms on the one hand, and yet on the 
other hand tend towards an opportunist relaxa- 
tion of principles. In addition to that we must 
take into consideration the political backward- 
ness of the bourgeoisie in Germany, which is the 
cause of the fact that there does not exist here 
a really liberal party, to say nothing of a demo- 
cratic party. This fact has this as its natural 
result: that the honestly liberal and democratic 
elements of the bourgeoisie gravitate more and 
more towards the side of the Social Democracy 
as the only party which is fighting for democratic 
principles in Germany. But these democratic ele- 
ments do not thereby become Socialists, though 
many believe they are socialists. In short, we 
have now in Germany a phenomenon which has 
been observable in France for half a century and 
longer, and which has contributed much to the 
confusion of party relations in France, viz.: that 
a part of the radical bourgeoisie rallies around 
the Socialist flag without understanding the 
nature of socialism. This political socialism, 
which in fact is only philanthropic humanitarian 
radicalism, has retarded the development of so- 
cialism in France exceedingly. It has diluted and 
blurred the principles and weakened the socialist 
party because it brought into it troops upon 
which no reliance could be placed in the decisive 

Marx in his articles on the class struggles in 
France,* characterized for us this political social- 
ism. And it would be an unparalleled ease of 

♦The Class Struggles In France, 1848-50. with an 
Introduction by Frederick Engels, Berlin, 1S»B. For- 
toaerU Publishing House. 


flying the track and going astray if the German 
Social Democracy, which has had such wonder- 
ful success and such a wonderful growth for the 
very reason that it has marched ahead unterri- 
fied on the basis of the class struggle, should sud- 
denly face about and plunge into mistakes, the 
avoidance of which has been the power and pride 
of our party, and has put the German Social 
Democracy at the head of the international social 
democracy of all countries. 

The disappearance of fear and aversion to us 
in political circles of course brings political ele- 
ments into our ranks. As long as this takes place 
on a small scale it causes no apprehension be- 
cause the political elements are outnumbered by 
the proletarian elements and are gradually as- 
similated. But it is a different thing if the politi- 
cal elements in the party become so numerous 
and influential that their assimilation becomes 
difficult and even the danger arises that the pro- 
letarian socialist element will be crowded to the 
rear. This danger of politicalization threatens 
the German Social Democracy from two sources 
on account of the backwardness of our bour- 
geoisie. First, the democratic elements of the bour- 
geoisie, which find no political satisfaction in 
their own class, flow to us in greater numbers 
than in countries with a normally developed 
bourgeoisie; second, the bureaucratic, though 
capitalistic, spirit of our governments tends to- 
wards a state socialism which, in fact, is only 
state capitalism, but which is dazzling and mis- 
leading for those who are easily deceived by ex- 
ternal similarities and catch words. The German, 
or more accurately the Prussian, state socialism 
whoso ideal is a military, landlord and police 
state, hates democracy above everything else. 
The Kanitzes and their followers claim to be out 
and out radical socialists, but will have nothing 
to do with democracy. Democracy is their 


enemy. It is to them something inherently polit- 
ical. But all politics is diametrically opposed to 
what is socialist. So by this trick logic we ar- 
rive at the conclusion which has gained footing 
here and there, even in social democratic circles, 
that democracy as savoring of politics has noth- 
ing in common with socialism, but on the con- 
trary is opposed to it. Certain errors, for ex- 
ample the opposition to the militia system, can be 
traced to this piece of sophistry, as also at one 
time the false teachings of von Schweitzer. But 
the truth is that democracy is not a thing that is 
specifically political, and we must never forget 
that we are not merely a socialist party, but a 
social democratic party because we have per- 
ceived that socialism and democracy are insepar- 

As Prince Bismarck, in the '60s, wanted to 
move the "Acheron 11 of socialism, and through 
the intervention of Brass offered to me the edi- 
torship of the North German Gazette, and then 
later through Bucher offered to Marx even the 
editorship of the StaaU Aneeiger, in both cases 
with full freedom to advocate socialism unreserv- 
edly, clear down to its ultimate consequences, it 
was of course not love for socialism or knowledge 
of socialism that led Prince Bismarck to do this. 
He understood nothing about socialism at that 
time, and never did understand anything about it 
down to his death; in fact, he never had any 
conception of the moving forces of political and 
social life at all. There probably never lived at 
any time in any country a "statesman" who was 
less scientific, who had less knowledge, and who 
relied so purely on experience and a sort of 
half-gambler, half-peddler cunning, as Bismarck. 
Those offers to socialists place in the clearest 
light the untruthfulness of Prince Bismarck's 
claim that he always regarded the social democ- 


racy as incompatible with the existence of the 
state. Bismarck wanted to use socialism for the 
purpose of breaking up and dissolving the bour- 
geois liberal opposition, especially the Progres- 
sive party. This, in itself, is the most conclusive 
proof that he had no conception of the real na- 
ture of socialism. Of course the fate of the boy- 
magician was repeated. The elemental force 
which was conjured up grew over the head of the 
dabbler, and he did not get the best of socialism; 
socialism got the best of him. 

The question of tactics came up then in our 
party for the first time. Should we, in considera- 
tion of certain concessions to the laborers, aid 
Bismarck against the Progressive party and other 
opponents of his policy in the expectation of be- 
ing then after that strong enough for a successful 
struggle against him and against the landlord, 
police and military state embodied in his person? 
Or did prudence and party interest demand that 
we, taking advantage of Bismarck's quarrel with 
the Progressive bourgeoisie and the other op- 
ponents of his policy, contest the Bismarckian 
policy and organize the proletariat into an inde- 
pendent political party for the purpose of pre- 
paring it for the conquest of political power t 

For a while the proletariat wavered, but after 
a few years the tactics, advocated principally by 
Herr von Schweitzer, of drawing closer to the 
Bismarckian policy, was given up and the tactics 
was everywhere accepted which has ever since 
been in force for the party down to the present 
day. This tactics consists in keeping clear the 
class character of the socialist party as a prole- 
tarian party; to train it by agitation, education 
and organization for the victorious completion of 
the emancipation struggle; to wage a systematic 
war against the dlass state, in whose hands the 
political and economic power of capitalism is con- 
centrated, and in this war to draw advantages 


a mLs as possible out of the quarrels and eon- 
flievj of the different political parties with each 


I» Germany the bourgeoisie has never at- 
tained political power as in France and England. 
Though the English bourgeoisie two and a half 
centuries ago, and the French bourgeoisie more 
than a century ago, cleared away all the medieval 
rubbish, the German bourgeoisie has never yet 
been in the position to bring about a political 
revolution and to realize in the state what is 
called political liberty. The loss of the world's 
commerce in consequence of the discovery of 
America, and in connection with that the stunt- 
ing of industrial activity; the political splitting 
up and ruin of Germany; the paralysis of the 
national spirit bordering almost on doath; the 
rise of dynastic interests hostile to the people 
and to enlightenment; all these prevented the 
growth of a strong citizenry. As in 1848 a belated 
opportunity was offered, the German people even 
then did not have the strength for a political revo- 
lution. After a brief revel of freedom it bowed 
its bead again under the old yoke. From fear of 
the laborers, in whom it scented a new and dan- 
gerous power, it became reactionary, without 
ever having been revolutionary; it did penance 
for its dreams of freedom, which appeared to it 
as youthful indiscretions, and threw itself into 
the arms of political reactionism, filled with but 
one remaining ideal, viz.: to get rich. The citi- 
zen disappeared from the political arena and 
became either politically indifferent or else cap- 
italistic. And to be capitalistic means to recog- 
nize and support the government unconditionally, 
provided it is a class government and represents 
and promotes exclusively the interests of capital- 

To prevent misunderstandings and wrong im- 
pressions, we must become fully conscious of 


the difference between "political" and " capital- 
istic' ' These two ideas, which because of the 
ambiguity of the German word "Buerger" are 
very easily confused by us, must be clearly 
separated from each other. In France the word 
"bourgeois," which in the middle ages had the 
same meaning as our "Buerger," in the course of 
time and of economic development gradually as- 
sumed the meaning of ' ' great-capitalist ; ' ' where- 
as we Germans for this latter idea borrow the 
French word "bourgeois," but also use concur- 
rently the German words "Buerger," and 
"buergerlich" without noticing the difference. 
So there arises a confusion of language which is 
anything but conducive to clearness of concep- 
tion. We speak of "buergerlich" society, and 
mean modern capitalistic bourgeois society. We 
speak of "buergerlich" spirit, "buergerlich" 
freedom, and mean a democratic spirit of free- 
dom such as the citizenry had in former times 
when it was fighting the priests and feudal land- 
lords, which spirit, however, is diametrically op- 
posed to the spirit, of the capitalistic, and Lence 
reactionary, landlord and priest coddling citizenry, 
or bourgeoisie of to-day. 

The correctness of the so-called materialistic 
conception of history, which considers the political 
development as dependent on the economic, 
cannot be brought more strikingly and con- 
vincingly to the mind than by the change which in 
the course of the Nineteenth century has been 
wrought in the bourgeoisie. It can be demon- 
strated with the greatest precision how with the 
change in the productive relations a change of 
political view and attitude has taken place in the 
bourgeoisie. Every step forward in economic 
development has been a step forward in the 
development of class antagonisms and a step in 
the approach of the bourgeoisie towards its old 
wnermes, the landlords and priests, and a step 
*.ii drawing away from the rising proletariat, 


which in order to effect its emancipation, mart 
advocate equal rights for all men and the demo- 
cratic principles formerly supported by the 
bourgeoisie. The moment the proletariat steps 
forth as a class separate from the bour- 
geoisie and having interests opposed to it* 
from that moment the bourgeoisie ceased 
to be democratic. In the states of tbn 
European continent this reaction falls in a chav* 
acteristic manner just in a period which is usual 
ly called the revolutionary period par excellence 
— in the period of the February and March 
revolutions. The contradiction is only an ap- 
parent one. The February revolution was a 
tardy victory of bourgeois idealism which stirred 
up the material interests of bourgeois realism to 
contradiction, to opposition and to reaction. The 
premature outbreak of the proletarian revolution 
(in the battle of June, 1848, at Paris), which 
followed upon the heels of the belated outbreak 
of the bourgeois revolution, drove the bourgeoisie 
over to the side of its hereditary enemy, because 
it foresaw in the victory of the proletariat the 
downfall of capitalism. In France Napoleon was 
elected President, and in Germany the bour- 
geoisie even in the honeymoon of the March 
revolution longed for a deliverer which would 
down the red specter. Thus the "black reaction," 
which in 1849 followed our revolution, was in 
fact simply the true character of this revolution, 
stripped of its fantastic deceptive dress of gilded 
phrases. Under the rule of capitalism the bour- 
geoisie was forced to become politically reac- 
tionary so far as it was capitalistic or stood under 
capitalistic influence. The "black reaction" 
which half a century ago spread over the Euro- 
pean continent, was just as much a historical 
necessity as the still blacker reaction of' 'the 
present zigzag policy of penitentiary bJj Qg which 
capitalism in a fit of desperation has forwi upon 





In Germany where capitalism was developed 
later than in England and France, and where 
it was not preceded, as in those two countries, 
by an era of economic prosperity for the bour- 
geoisie as well as of political supremacy by it, 
the whole political development was obliged to 
take on a different character. Thero a soil 
cleared of medieval mould and undergrowth; 
here, the most modern of modern conditions, as 
modern as in France and England, in between 
medieval mould and undergrowth; the healthy 
growth entwined with ivy which sucks the life 
out of everything that it clasps with its tendrils; 
which only lives from death and rottenness and 
which must bo torn off and grubbed up to pre- 
vent the healthy and growing from being sacri- 
ficed to the dead. The German bourgeoisie, 
which was sleeping the sleep of impotence at 
the time when in other lands the bourgeoisie im- 
pressed upon the state its bourgeois character, 
docs not even now possess the strength to tear 
away and extirpate the romantic and death-briqg- 
ing parasitic ivy of landlordism and medieval 

The political impotence of the German citi- 
zenry in past and present is what distinguishes 
the political life of Germany from that of the 
other advanced countries, and has assigned to 
the German proletariat the mission not only of 
solving its own strictly proletarian problem, but 
also of accomplishing the work left undone by 
our bourgeoisie. Tactics is determined by the 
nature of the conditions. So far as the bour- 
geoisie is capitalistic, we have to fight it; so far 
as the bourgeoisie opposes capitalism and the 
reactionism which it shields and assists, we have 


either to support it positively or at least not 
assume a hostile attitude towards it, unless it 
gets in our line of tie, as for example, in the 
elections for the Beichstag where a bourgeois 
and a social democratic candidate are running 
against each other 

Disregarding the yon Schweitzer episode, the 
German Social Democracy has consistently and 
consciously followed the tactics prescribed in the 
Communist Manifesto, to direct its main attack 
against political reactionism and to lend aid to 
the bourgeoisie, so far as it is liberal or demo- 
cratic, in its struggle against political reaction- 
ism and in no case to throw itself on the side 
of political reaction in its struggle against the 
bourgeoisie. It is necessary to emphasize this, 
because Bernstein in his polemic written against 
the Social Democratic party of Germany, and 
which has been so suspiciously praised and rec- 
ommended, has accused us of something which 
is a favorite old legend of Eugene Bichter's, viz.: 
that we blindly opposed the German bourgeoisie 
to the advantage of political reactionism and 
repelled and terrorized it so much that in its 
alarm it took refuge under the wings of a reac- 
tionary landlord, police and military state. It is 
not possible to slap the truth squarer in the 
face than is done by saying this. 


At the time of the great eonstitutional struggle 
in the '60s there was no socialist party worth 
speaking of. In 1864, at the time Lassalle was 
killed in a duel with the Wallachian noble Bako- 
witz, the Universal German Working Men's 
Union numbered in all Germany 5,000 or 6,000 
members on paper; in reality still fewer. This 
little band could not have scared the German 
Progressive party out of its wits, even though 


we measure the latter 's valor by the microscopic 
scale of rabbit courage, befitting the German 
bourgeoisie. Yet it surrendered to Bismarck; 
and after the success of the civil war of 1866 it 
granted him indemnity and bowed itself under 
the Caudine yoke which he set up. To claim that 
the Social Democracy is to blame for that is 
simply ridiculous. It is true that Lassalle had 
attacked the bourgeoisie very bitterly, but in so 
doing had found very little sympathy among 
German workingmen. And although Lassallo in 
his opposition to the Progressive party occa- 
sionally got perhaps somewhat too close to the 
Bismarckian reactionary policy, still it must not 
be forgotten that at the beginning of the con- 
stitutional struggle he had stood on the side of 
the Progressive party and only separated from 
it after it had obstinately refused to carry on the 
struggle in earnest in spite of his repeated de- 
mands that it do so. 

The German bourgeoisie — and this is the key 
to its otherwise unaccountable conduct— did not 
have in 1862 any more than it had in 1848 and 
earlier, the stuff for a political revolution. It 
feared — as I told one of the leaders of the Pro- 
gressive party to his face in the beginning of the 
year 1863 — it feared a revolution more than a 
reaction. And Bismarck with his cynical con- 
tempt of men and his horse-trader cuteness, soon 
brought out that fact. The Progressists did not 
strike him as ' ' imposing ; ' ' and the more impu- 
dent ho was in his intercourse with them the easier 
he curled them around his finger. To hold the 
German Social Democracy responsible for the 
treason to liberty committed by the Prussian 
Progressive party is not only an insult to his- 
torical truth; it indicates also a complete misun- 
derstanding of the role which the German bour- 
geoisie has played since the middle ages. 

I simply put the two facts side by side: In 
the period of the constitutional struggle when 

£4 no ooicpROiass. 

the Progressive party stood at the height of its 
power and had the people behind it, Bismarck, 
then in the beginning of his career, turned it 
down with the greatest ease. In the period of 
the anti-Socialist law, when Bismarck stood at 
the height of his power and with all the re- 
sources of capitalism was exercising a bourgeois 
dictatorship, he was turned down by the Social 
Democracy with the greatest ease, though it had 
all the political parties against it. That shows 
who can fight reactionism in Germany and who 
can not 

The wretchedness of the German bourgeoisie 
does not, however, release us from the duty of 
assisting it, wherever it does earnestly oppose 
reactionism, provided our own interests do not 
thereby suffer. And this has been done without 
exception ever since the German Social Democ- 
racy entered the arena as an independent party. 
For myself, I need only to mention the fact that 
in 1865 I was expelled from Prussia because I 
foiled Bismarck's attempt to crush the Progres- 
sive party with the aid of the Socialists as be- 
tween two millstones. I can say with a good 
conscience that in all my struggles against the 
Bismarckian reaction I have fought for political 
liberty. And in my oft-quoted pamphlet on the 
political attitude of the Social Democracy I 
emphasized the democratic character of our move- 
ment not less than has been done recently by 
Bernstein, who recommends to us as brand new 
wisdom what we have already been practicing for 
thirty-odd years. 


I must here say a word about my above men- 
tioned pamphlet on tactics. The speech out of 
which it arose was delivered in the year 1869 
at the time of the North German Confederation; 
this was a temporary arrangement which could 
not possibly last and which would nave to end 


either with the breaking down of Bismarck's 
Great-Prussian policy or with its victory by a 
union with the South German States, excepting 
Austria. In this temporary state or interim the 
tactics forced upon us by the logic of the facts 
was that of opposition at any price. Bismarck 
had introduced a universal suffrage of the Napo- 
leonic pattern, not to establish the sovereignty 
of the people, but to cover up his despotic dic- 
tatorship. As Napoleon through his prefects 
directed the universal sufTrago as he pleased, so 
Bismarck thought he could do the same through 
his local counsellors. It seemed to him an instru- 
ment easier to handle than the three class electoral 
system, which the bourgeoisie had got control of, 
and in the first two classes of which it had cre- 
ated for itself an impregnable stronghold. 

The history of the Prussian three class electoral 
system is interesting because it shows so plainly 
how the most craftily planned political schemes 
of reactionists enn be overthrown by economic 
development and temporarily turned so as to 
have an opposite effect from that intended. De- 
signed with cunning shrewdness to bar out all 
democratic or opposition elements, it answered 
this purpose perfectly for a decade, until one 
fine day the bourgeoisie, having grown econom- 
ically strong and being provoked by the dis- 
gusting orgies of landlord and police stewardship 
began to feel its political strength; it came upon 
the idea that it only needed to will the thing in 
order to obtain a majority in the first two 
electoral classes, and thereby win a 'ictory in 
the election of the deputies. The idea was made 
a reality, and I'rince Bismarck damned the ma- 
chinery which so outrageously refused to work 
as it was expected to; the three class electoral 
system then became the "most wretched of sll 
electoral systems ; ' ' but on the other hand, uni- 
versal, equal and direct suffrage, this God-be- 
with-us of the "frantic year" 1848, and which 


in Napoleonic France bad shown such splendid 
results, now beamed as a brilliant salvation of 
the state and of society through Caesarism. 

So we got the universal franchise; and for 
another reason as well The dynastic-feudal 
revolution from above which topped off Bis- 
marck's "national 11 policy, would have hung in 
mid-air unless there had been given to it at 
least the appearance of a revolution from below. 
He needed the people even though only for a 
dummy; and there was no better bait than the 
universal franchise of 1848. It united the Bis- 
marckian revolution from above with the '48er 
revolution from below and put the unthinking 
masses in the delusion that Prussia, enlarged at 
the expense of Germany and turned into a land- 
lord, police and soldier state, »was the realization 
of German democracy. To-day we know how 
deep this delusion had taken root; it required 
decades of brutal misgovernment to root it out 

But in one thing Bismarck miscalculated, viz.: 
in the strength of the revolutionary idea. What 
was possible in France after the battle of June, 
which drove the whole bourgeoisie into the wild- 
est reactionism, was not possible in Germany 
where the power of the state was not so closely 
centralized and where, fed by the development 
of capitalism, a healthy workingmen's movement 
grew up which was determined to exploit the 
national and dynastic crises and struggles in 
the interest of the proletariat; to make socialism 
the decisive power in Germany and to help it on 
to victory and supremacy. The German pro- 
letariat had the advantage of being able to draw 
practical lessons from the labor movement in 
other countries which were (and are) ahead of 
Germany in political and economic development. 
It also had the extraordinary good fortune to be 
led into the field of political action by its great 
teachers, Marx, Engels and Lassalle, right at 


the beginning of its career. It was thereby 
spared from the errors of pure and simple union- 
ism on the ono hand, and of aimless planless, 
through and through bourgeois-anarchistic plot- 
ting and bawling for revolutions on the 
other hand. Though the German working-class 
in 1867, when the universal franchise went into 
effect, was only to a very small extent filled with 
class consciousness, it was nevertheless the only 
class, and the socialist party was the only party, 
which clearly saw the moaning of voting and 
the value of the franchise. There was oven a 
slight overestimation of it, but this was useful 
because it increased the enthusiasm. 

If Prince Bismarck entertained the hope that 
the universal franchise could be exploited in 
Napoleonic style and that the Reichstag would 
remain what I called it in 1867, the figleaf to 
partly cover the naked figure of absolutism, the 
political basis of this hope was overthrown by the 
expansion of the North German Confederation 
into the German Empire. The highest triumph 
of Bismarckian politics carried its downfall and 
bankruptcy within it. "What the stiff Prussian 
military and police spirit could perhaps have 
prevented for an indefinite time within the limits 
of the North German Confederation, viz.: the 
rise and growth of an independent popular move- 
ment, this could not be prevented on the larger 
field of the German Empire. The power of the 
people could not be suppressed, and the jealousy 
of the "Federal Princes' ' at Prussian supremacy 
helped along, so that the trees of Bismarck's 
feudal Cffisarism could not shoot up as high 
as the trees of Napoleon's prefect-Caesarism. It 
was not possible by any allurements to take from 
the workingmen the recognition of the insepara- 
bility of socialism from democracy and of de- 
mocracy from socialism. 

"The question" (thus I began my speech 
in 1869), "what attitude should the Social 

28 NO C0MPB0MI8K. 

Democracy take in the political itruggle, is 
answered with ease and certainty if we have 
attained a clear conception of the insepara- 
bility of socialism and democracy. Socialism and 
democracy are not the same, but they are only 
different expressions of the same fundamental 
idea. They oolong to each other, round out each 
other, and can never stand in contradiction to 
each other. Socialism without democracy is 
pseudo-socialism, just as democracy without so- 
cialism is pseudo-democracy. The democratic 
state is the only possible form of a socialistically 
organised society." , 

This truth, the inseparableness of democracy 
and socialism, served for the German working 
class as a sure guide amidst the greatest con- 
fusion of political issues, so that the dangerous 
shoals of state socialism were avoided towards 
which the Prussian reaction was headed even in 
the '40s; for the ideal of the garrison and police 
state was of course a garrison and police social- 
ism, which is euphemistically called state so- 
cialism. The sophisms of Wagoner and von 
Schweitzer that democracy has something bour- 
geois about it, and that socialism, being directed 
against bourgeois society, must consequently be 
anti-democratic, did, it is true, confuse many a 
man in von Schweitzer's time; out it never found 
acceptance among the mass of laborers. This 
pseudo-logic bobbed up again recently in the well 
known militia debate, but has no longer any sig- 


Before we go farther we must get a clear idea 
of the meaning of the word "compromise," other- 
wise every debate on it will be completely with- 
out aim and without result, because every one 
will have in mind something different and conse- 
quently no one will meet the arguments of an- 
other. If compromise is understood as a con- 
cession of theory to practice, then our entire life 


and activity is a compromise and all huinaL. 
history and the history of the race from the ttie 
of the individual up to that of nations and of 
mankind is an endless, unbroken chain of com- 
promises. That conception of history according 
to which tabula rasa, i. e., a clean sweep, is tem- 
porarily made and must be made in order 
to start a new administration and system 
free from the old, is in the highest degree un- 
scientific and stands in the most direct contra- 
diction to experience. The clean sweep theory 
is a spook which exists to-day only in the heads 
of police politicians who accuse us of wanting to 
1 'ruinate" everything that does not fit into our 
scheme. These gentlemen thereby give judgment 
against themselves, for they think they are the 
ones who possess this magical power of being 
able to "ruinate" anything and everything which 
Time's eternal loom has woven and is weaving, if 
perchance it has been done without first getting 
a permit from the chief of police. The framers 
of the anti-socialist law and penitentiary law dis- 
play by their foolish activity only their bottom- 
less ignorance. The organic laws according to 
which political and social development goes on, 
cannot be arbitrarily changed or nullified, just 
as little as this can be done with the laws under 
which an animal or a plant grows and develops. 
Whoever interferes there with violence can only 
disturb and destroy; this has always been the 
effect wrought by the police politicians. What 
these fuddlers, who call themselves "statesmen," 
say against us social democrats, viz.: that we 
cannot create anything, but only destroy is 
simply the reflection of their own actings and 
doings; there is not among the innumerable sins 
and vices, of which they accuse us, a single one 
which they have not taken from themselves. 

To add one new example to the old ones, I 
will simply refer to the charge, which has been 
stereotyped for twenty years, viz.: that ike 


Social Democracy has for its object a pruiecaim*. 
dictatorship. The truth is that since the battle 
of June at Paris, that is for fifty-one years, we 
have actually had on the continent of Europe the 
dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. A dictatorship 
which has been exercised with fire and sword 
against the working class; which, after the battle 
of June, brought us the horrible butcheries of 
the Commune, and hundreds of smaller butch- 
eries of laborers; a dictatorship which extends to 
the disfranchisement of the working class and 
deprives the proletariat of the enjoyment not 
only of political rights, but also of simple legal 
rights; a dictatorship which has expressed itself 
in dozens of exceptional laws and force laws and 
which we Germans have to thank for the Anti- 
Socialist law, the penitentiary bill and class law 
decrees such as the Loebtau judgment and the 
perjury trial at Essen. And if "King Stumm," 
who is now king in the realm of "social reform," 
should accomplish his purpose of annihilating 
every organization of workingmen, what in com- 
parison with such a dictatorship would be the 
dictatorship of a Marius or a Sulla or of the 
French convention of 1792-17941 The political 
power which the social democracy aims at and 
which it will win, no matter what its enemies 
may do, has not for its object the establishment 
of a dictatorship of the proletariat, but the sup- 
pression of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. 
Just as the class struggle which the proletariat 
carries on is only a counter struggle in self de- 
fense to resist the class struggle of the bour- 
geoisie against the proletariat; and the end of 
this struggle by the victory of the proletariat 
will be the abolition of the class struggle in every 

We Social Democrats know that the laws ac- 
cording to which political and social evolution 
goes on can no more be changed or stopped by 
us than by the authorities of capitalistic society. 


We know that we can no more introduce at will 
socialistic production and a socialist form of 
society than the German Kaiser nine years ago 
could carry out his February proclamations 
against the representatives of the capitalistic 
class struggle. Therefore we were able to watch 
with smiling indifference the attempt of our 
opponents to crush the labor movement by force. 
We were and still are sure of our success, as 
sure as of the solution of a mathematical problem. 
But we know also that tho shifting of relations, 
though it goes on unceasingly, yet goes on grad- 
ually because it is an organic movement; and it 
goes on, too. without destruction of the existing 
relations (the removal of the dead is not de- 
struction). The destruction of the exist- 
ing, of the living, is in general impossible. 
We saw that plainly in the French revolution, 
which was probably the best planned and most 
energetically carried out of all political up- 
heavals; but nevertheless after the "golden 
period" of ideological groping around and of 
phantastic and Utopian illusions was past, it was 
compelled to take things as they were and fit 
the new on to the old. In the first rush it may 
be possible occasionally to crowd out the living; 
but history teaches us that the most revolutionary 
and despotic governments were finally compelled 
by the logic of facts to yield and to recognize 
perhaps in another form, that which was unnat- 
urally and mechanically abolished. In short, 
viewed historically, the present is, as a rule, a 
compromise between the past and the future. 

Therefore to reject a compromise in this sense 
would be unscientific folly. And practical folly 
it would be for a political party to fail to draw 
advantages out of the opportunities of political 
life and utilize for itself the quarrels of the dif- 
ferent opposing parties. Prudence demands this; 
principles do not come into the question; no 
obligations are assumed and not to do what 




ctance demands would be stupidity. That wt 
cial Democrats in the Reichstag sometimes om 
a socio-political question Tote with the Conserva- 
tives for the government, and on political and 
commercial questions sometimes vote with the 
Radicals against the government, that is a com- 
mon requirement of political warfare. Though it 
is undoubtedly a compromise between theory and 
practice, it has nothing at all in common with the 
compromises against which the party has re- 
peatedly declared itself distinctly and expressly. 
What the party had in mind and what it by 
formal resolutions made the duty of the members, 
was the avoidance of alliances, agreements, ar- 
rangements, contracts or whatever they might be 
called, which would involve a surrender of prin- 
ciples or in general a change in the relation of 
our party towards the bourgeois parties in a 
manner injurious to us. This last point must 
be especially emphasized, because the question 
hinges principally on this. In the debate on 
taking part in the Prussian legislative elections 
the question at issue was exclusively this last 
point; for none of those who advocated partici- 
pation had the slightest idea of sacrificing party 
principles in an alliance with the Progressive 
party, though it must not be overlooked that 
questions of tactics very easily shift into questions 
of principle. 

If the circumstances and necessities of the sit- 
uation demand cooperation with other parties, 
this can always be accomplished without a com- 
promise. I take for example Belgium. The 
Liberal party had there a common interest with 
the Socialist party in fighting the Clericals. The 
two parties united and worked together up to a 
certain point. That would have been done even 
without any fusion. But it was done by fusion, 
and what was the result f Quarrel and strife. 
Fusions have shown themselves to be entirely 
superfluous. When that point is passed up to 


which community of interests existed and wp to 
which the community of interests, without any 
fusion, would have induced united action, then 
united action ceases. If class consciousness is 
not strong enough among laborers, it certainly 
is among the gentlemen of the bourgeoisie, in 
whom the class instinct is much more active than 
in laborers. And this is true even in countries 
with democratic laws and institutions. I refer to 
the separation between bourgeois democrats and 
socialists in Switzerland, Bernstein's Eldorado, 
where, according to Bernstein's doctrine, class 
antagonism should properly have entirely disap- 
peared; but we know it exists there just as strong 
as in less democratic countries. But it is not 
denied that the acuteness of class struggles is 
lessened by democratic institutions. 

In Belgium with its free institutions on one 
hand and its priest-ridden government on the 
other hand, election alliances between the Social 
Democracy and the bourgeois parties have here- 
tofore found a fertile soil. At any rate, in all 
alliances which it formed there our party had 
the advantage of being in the lead. It could not 
bo exploited nor deceived. And yet the Belgium 
comraden have found a drawback in compro- 
mises. Comrade Vandervelde, writing in the 
Wiener Arbeiterzeitung, welcomes the introduc- 
tion of the proportional system in Belgium as 
the end of election alliances. "In future," he 
writes, "secondary factors will no longer enter 
into the class struggle; the confusing side issues 
will disappear which render it so difficult for 
the masses to grasp the truth of the class strug- 
gle.' ' Friend Vandervelde has therefore found 
out that compromises, even there where they 
take place under conditions and circumstances 
the most favorable for the laborers, have an 
injurious effect because "they render it difficult 
for the masses to grasp the truth of the class 
struggle; 99 in other words, alliances by removing 


the laborers from the ground of the class struggle 
take away from them the possibility of developing 
their full power and making it count. This they 
are only able to do on the platform of the class 

The harm of a compromise does not consist 
in the danger of a formal selling out or side- 
tracking of party principles. That has probably 
never been intended by any one in our party. 
Even when our comrades in Essen in the election 
before the last voted for the "cannon king" out 
of spite, they had no idea of surrendering even 
one iota of our program. The danger and root 
of the evil does not lie here. It lies In giving tp, 
keeping in the background or forgetting the 
class struggle basis, for this is the source of the 
whole modern labor movement. It is necessary 
here to distinguish sharply, and not be misled 
by catchwords; in short, we must have an emanci- 
pation from phrases, as I said decades ago, with 
reference to the phraseology of anarchism, which 
poses as revolutionary, but in fact is only small 
bore reactionism, merely a late-arrival caricature 
of the bourgeois ideal of freedom and a theatrical 
masquerade of commercial free competition. 


Pity for poverty, enthusiasm for equality and 
freedom, recognition of social injustice and a de- 
sire to remove it, is not socialism. Condemna- 
tion of wealth and respect for poverty, such as 
we find in Christianity and other religions, is not 
socialism. The communism of early times, as it 
was before the existence of private property, and 
as it has at all times and among all peoples been 
the elusive dream of some enthusiasts, is not 
socialism. The forcible equalization advocated 
by the followers of Baboeuf, the so-called equali- 
tarians, is not socialism. 

In all these appearances thore is lacking the 


real foundation of capitalist society with its class 
antagonisms. Modern socialism is the child of 
capitalist society and its class antagonisms. With 
out these it could not be. Socialism and ethics 
are two separate things. This fact must be kept 
in mind. 

Whoever conceives of socialism in the sense 
of a sentimental philanthropic striving after hu- 
man equality, with no idea of the existence of 
capitalist society, is no socialist in the sense of 
the class struggle, without which modern social- 
ism is unthinkable. To be sure Bernstein is nom- 
inally for the class struggle — in the same manner 
as the Hessian peasant is for "the Republic and 
the Grand Duke." Whoever has come to a full 
consciousness of the nature of capitalist society 
and the foundation of modern socialism, knows 
also that a socialist movement, that leaves the 
basis of the class struggle may be anything else, 
but it is not socialism. 

This foundation of the class struggle, which 
Marx — and this is his immortal service — has 
given to the modern labor movement, is the main 
point of attack in the battle which the bourgeois 
political economy is waging with socialism. The 
political economists deny the class struggle and 
would make of the labor movement only a part 
of the bourgeois party movements, and the Social 
Democracy only a division of the bourgeois 
democracy. The bourgeois political economy 
and politics direct all their exertions against the 
class character of the modern labor movement. 
If it were possible to create a breach in this bul- 
wark, in this citadel of the Social Democracy, 
then the Social Democracy is conquered, and the 
proletariat thrown back under the dominion of 
capitalistic society. However small such a breach 
may be in the beginning, the enemy has the 
power to widen it and the certainty of final vic- 
tory. And the enemy is most dangerous when he 
comes as a friend to the fortress, when he slinks 


in under the cover of friendship, and is recog- 
nized as a friend and comrade. 

The enemy who comes to us with open visor 
we face with a smile; to set our foot upon his 
neck is mere play for us. The stupidly brutal 
acts of violence of police politicians, the out- 
rages of anti-socialist laws, the anti-revolution 
laws, penitentiary bills — these only arouse feel- 
ings of pitying contempt; the enemy, however, 
that reaches out the hand to us for a political 
alliance, and intrudes himself upon us as a friend 
and brother, — him and him alone have we to 

Our fortress can withstand every assault — it 
can not be stormed nor taken from us by siege — 
it can only fall when we ourselves open the doors 
to the enemy and take him into our ranks as a 
fellow comrade. Growing out of the class strug- 
gle, our party rests upon the class struggle as a 
condition of its existence. Through and with 
that struggle the party is unconquerable; without 
it the party is lost, for it will have lost the source 
of its strength. Whoever fails to understand 
this or thinks that the class struggle is a dead 
issue, or that class antagonisms are gradually be- 
ing effaced, stands upon the basis of bourgeois 

The present discussion over tactics in relation 
to participation in the elections to the Prussian 
legislature, has been compared to the discussion 
which took place among the Social Democratic 
members of the Reichstag in the middle of the 
'80s concerning the steamship subsidy. If one 
examines the matter only superficially the com- 
parison appears strikingly close, but ceases to 
be so as soon as the kernel of the question is 
reached. At that time we were concerned with 
the application of universally recognized prin- 
ciples to a concrete case. That the Social Demo- 
cratic faction in the Reichstag was interested in 
the furtherance of German shipping and com- 


mercial interests was as universally admitted as 
that they were opposed to the colonial policy and 
all other imperialistic reactionary tendencies. The 
only question was whether the subsidy was pri- 
marily in the interest of the German commer- 
cial interests, which were national in their chnr- 
acter, or whether it was a part of colonial pol- 
itics that served only the private interests of re- 
actionary individuals at the expense of the pub- 
lic. No one suggested at that time to change 
the old tactics or alter the course of the party. 
The present discussion, however, is concerned 
with the question of a complete change of the 
old tactics and aims; a change of tactics that 
would mean a change in the character of the 
party. It turns upon the question of the reten- 
tion or abandonment of the class struggle stand- 
point which distinguishes us from all bourgeois 
parties; in short, it involves a decisive step, upon 
which depends whether we shall remain a social- 
ist party, or whether we shall brHg* over the 
Rubicon of the class struggle and become the 
left wing of the bourgeois democracy. 


Diversity of opinions on theoretical points is 
never dangerous to the party. There are for us 
no bounds to criticism, and however great our 
respect may be for the founders and pioneers of 
our party, we recognize no infallibility and no 
other authority than science, whose sphere is 
ever widening and continually proves what it 
previously held as truths to be errors; destroys 
the old decayed foundations and creates new 
ones; does not stand still for an instant; but in 
perpetual advance moves remorselessly over 
every dogmatic belief. At the Union Conven- 
tion held at Gotha twenty-four years ago I said, 



"We recognize no infallible Pope, not even a 
literary one." And when in 1891, in Erfurt, I 
explained and advocated the newly drafted plat- 
form, which was unanimously adopted, I declared 
that just because our program was a scientific 
one it most be constantly changed at minor 
points to meet the continuous advance of science. 
And I maintain that no man — Marx, in spite 
of his comprehensive and deep intellect, as little 
as any other — can bring science to final perfec- 
tion; and this position is for everyone who un- 
derstands the nature of science a foregone con- 
clusion. No socialist, therefore, has the right 
to condemn attacks on the theoretical ideas of 
the Marxian teachings or to excommunicate any 
one from the party because of such attacks. But 
it is wholly different when such attacks imply a 
complete overturning of our whole conception of 
society, as, for example, is the case with Bern- 
stein. Then vigorous defense is in order. 

Far more dangerous than theoretical assaults 
are practical disavowals of our principles. The- 
oretical discussions interest only a comparatively 
small portion of our membership; whereas prac- 
tical disavowal of principles and tactical offenses 
against the party program touch every 
party comrade and arouse the attention of 
every party comrade; and when they are not 
quickly checked and corrected they bring con- 
fusion into the whole party. I do not believe 
I shall be disputed by any one who is familiar 
with the circumstances and with the party, when 
I say that the masses within the party care little 
for Bernstein's writings. They only find sym- 
pathy among those who have formerly held sim- 
ilar views, and they arouse a sensation only 
among our opponents who wish to see fulfilled 
their old hopes of a split in the party, or to see 
the whole Social Democracy go over with drums 
beating, into the bourgeois camp. I will wager 
that not ten thousand of our comrades have 


ever read Bernstein's book, and I am far from 
considering it as a reproach to the party that 
they show no inclination to busy themselves 
once more with the underbrush that the founders 
of socialism, more than a generation ago, yes, 
in some cases more than two generations ago, 
hewed down in clearing the way for socialism. 
One might just as well accuse our comrades of 
being unscientific because they no longer read 
the antedeluvian writings of Schultzo-Delitzsch 
that may be lying around somewhere in country 
villages as dust-covered and shopworn goods. 

Look at the list of those who have commented 
on Bernstein's book. There is not a single la- 
borer among them. It is only those comrades 
whose professional duty it is to read and discuss 
such writings. With what interest, on the con- 
trary, the whole party followed the question of 
participation in the Prussian legislative elections, 
or the election alliance in Bavaria — how lively 
was the discussion! This lively interest showed 
the maturity of the party. We are past the 
stage of theoretical debates about platforms. 
The establishment, elaboration and clarifying of 
our program we leave to science, which in our 
present society is the business of only a few. 
But the practical application of our program, 
and the tactics of the party are the business of 
all j here all work together. 

The supreme importance of tactics and the 
necessity of maintaining its class struggle char- 
acter, is something the party has been well con- 
scious of from the beginning. If we read the 
proceedings of the early conventions held in 
the 70s we find that in all questions of tactics the 
thought was continually kept in the foreground 
that the party must be kept clean from all mix- 
ture with all other parties, every one of which, 
no matter how much they differed from each 
other or how furiously they fought among them- 
selves, stood upon the ground of bourgeois so- 

40 NO C0MPB01O8B. 

cietv as a common basis. This separation of the 
Social Democracy from all other parties, this 
essential difference, which silly opponents take 
as a reason or pretext for declaring us political 
outlaws, is our pride and our strength. 

In the Hamburg convention, where under the 
influence of a series of confusing circumstances, 
the mass of the delegates appeared decided to 
break with the old tactics and traditions, the 
party still recovered itself at the last moment 
boforo the leap into tho dark and doc la red itsolf 
by an overwhelming majority as opposed to 
every compromise. And this resolution has re- 
mained in force to the present day. If two or 
three election districts have been induced to enter 
into an alliance with a bourgeois party, this was 
done upon their own responsibility and in un- 
doubted violation of the Hamburg resolution, 
which, let me repeat, was not repealed by the 
Stuttgart resolution. On the other hand, the 
Berlin comrades, who have been complained of 
by the friends of compromise as violators of the 
Hamburg resolution, have conscientiously fol- 
lowed the spirit and letter of it, and by their 
decisive stand maintained the authority of the 
supreme party council and performed a service 
to the party. 

The advocates of compromise tactics overesti- 
mate the value of parliamentary activity and 
parliamentary representation. Not that I do not 
recognize the enormous value of parliamentary 
activity, but this is not an end, but only a means 
to an end. Our power is not measured by the 
number of representatives, but by the total num- 
ber of votes that are behind us. 

It is a bourgeois feeling to overvalue the pos- 
session of representatives. In representation as 
in money there is power — power over others. 
Whoever places the purity and the greatness of 
our party above all else, for him representatives 
have value only in so far as they serve to give ex- 


pression to the power and extent of Social De- 
mocracy. What do ten, what do a hundred repre- 
sentatives signify, when our escutcheon has lost 
its gloss through their acquisition f The value 
of a representative is small. But the value of the 
integrity of our party is immeasurable. In it 
rests our strength. As with the shorn hair, that 
signified his manhood's honor, the strength of 
Samson disappeared, so the strength of our party 
would cease if we allowed the bourgeois Delilahs 
to flatter away our most precious jewel and the 
roots of our triumphal strength— 4he party purity, 
the party honor. 


We may not do as other parties, because we 
are not like the others. We are — and this cannot 
be too often repeated — separated from all other 
parties by an insurmountable barrier, a barrier 
that any individual can easily surmount; but 
once on the other side of it, and he is no Social 

We are different from the others; "we are 
other than the others." What for the others are 
necessities and conditions of life are death to us. 
What is it that has made of us in Germany the 
pivotal party, which according to the significant 
testimony of Caprivi and the teaching of daily 
experience makes us the axle around which gov- 
ernmental politics turns f Most assuredly not our 
representatives in the Reichstag. We might have 
three times as many representatives, and the 
allied bourgeois parties would have nothing to 
fear from us. No, it is the avalanche-like in- 
crease of our supporters that gradually, with the 
certainty of a natural law, or more correctly of 
a natural force, grows from tens of thousands to 
hundreds of thousands, and from hundreds of 
thousands to millions, and is daily increasing, 
bidding defiance to our opponents and driving 


them into impotent rage. And this avalanche- 
like increase has come, and is coming, as a con- 
sequence of our opposition to and struggle with 
all other parties. 

All who are weary and heavy laden; all who 
suffer under injustice; all who suffer from the 
outrages of the existing bourgeois society; all 
who have in them the feeling of the worth of 
humanity, look to us, turn hopefully to us, as 
the only party that can bring rescue and deliver- 
ance. And if we, the opponents of this unjust 
world of violence, suddenly reach out the hand of 
brotherhood to it, conclude alliances with its 
representatives, invite our comrades to go hand 
in hand with the enemy whose misdeeds have 
driven the masses into our camp, what confusion 
must result in their minds I How can the masses 
longer believe on usf If the men of the clerical 
party, of the progressive party, and the other 
boodle parties are our comrades, wherefore then 
the struggle against capitalist society, whose rep- 
resentatives and champions all of these aref 
What reason have we, then, for existence f It 
must be that for the hundreds and thousands, 
for the millions that have sought salvation under 
our banner, it was all a colossal mistake for 
them to come to us. If we are not different 
from the others, then we are not the right ones 
— the Savior is yet to come; and the Social 
Democracy was a false Messiah, no better than 
the other false ones! 

Just in this fact lies our strength, that we are 
not like the others, and that we are not only 
not like the others, and that we are not simply 
different from the others, but that we are their 
deadly enemy, who have sworn to storm and 
demolish the Bastile of Capitalism, whose de- 
fenders all those others are. Therefore we are 
only strong when we are alone. 

This is not to say that we are to individualize 
or to isolate ourselves. We have never lacked 


for company, and we never shall so long as the 
fight lasts. On the essentially true but literally 
false phrase about a "single reactionary mass," 
the Social Democracy has never believed since it 
passed from the realm of theory to that of prac- 
tice. We know that the individual members and 
divisions of the "single reactionary mass" are in 
conflict with each other, and we have always used 
these conflicts for our purposes. We have used 
opponents against opponents, but have never 
allowed them to use us. We have in the person 
of Bismarck, the agrarian, fought personified 
capitalism and militarism and utilized all his 
capitalistic opponents to weaken him; thus we 
have used particularism; and thus the bourgeois 
democracy. That was, however, no compromise, 
not even a momentary truce. Just as little as it 
is a compromise or momentary truce when we in 
the Reichstag vote against the Agrarians in favor 
of some measure of the Progressive party. 

This exclusiveness of the German Social De- 
mocracy as opposed to other parties is especially 
required of us. because of the historical develop- 
ment and political conditions of Germany. We 
have no revolutionary bourgeois with whom we 
might temporarily unite as in France and Bel- 

We have no Democratic institutions that make 
it possible for a Social Democrat to take part 
in the government side by side with members of 
other parties. In Switzerland the government is 
little more than an administration, and one chosen 
by the people at that. A Social Democrat, as a 
member of the government of a canton signifies 
little more than a Social Democrat in a com- 
mon council. Accordingly our comrades in 
Switzerland could vote unreservedly for the gov- 
ernment monopoly of grain and brandy without 
feeling that the money secured thereby would 
be squandered for purposes hostile to the people 
and injurious to the community. 

44 NO 00MPR0MI8I. 

Even in France things are somewhat different 
from here, although the government is emphat- 
ically a class government (occasionally so in a 
degree scarcely equaled by any other govern- 
ment) ; yet the relations are so little consolidated, 
and the influence of the democracy and of the 
social democracy is so great that any permanent 
misuse of the governmental powers for reaction- 
ary and oppressive purposes is not to be feared. 
Accordingly it was possible a few years ago for 
the socialist Jaures to introduce a bill in the legis- 
lative chamber regarding the grain traffic, which 
was externally but little different from the bill 
introduced in the German Reichstag by Count 
Kanitz of the Agrarian party. Tet the inner dif- 
ference was all the greater. In France there is 
no agrarian class; the bourgeoisie rules directly, 
yet under conditions that would prevent it from 
making the means of government — police, army 
and class judiciary — the end and purpose of the 
state, as in Germany is not only possible, but is 
the actual case. We here come again and again 
upon the tragical fate that robbed Germany of 
the liberal stage of political development. We 
have, to be sure, a capitalist class state, and that 
in the worst sense of the word, but the bourgeois 
capitalism only rules indirectly; it has to be 
satisfied to let the purely Catholic clerical party, 
the Center, hold the balance of power in the 
German house of representatives, and to let the 
Prussian agrarian class, a backward anachron- 
istic class, that has no essential function to fulfill 
either in political or economic life, and has a 
purely parasitical existence, control the adminis- 
tration. The result of this is that the social 
democracy of Germany must fulfill the role of 
champions of political freedom. The task of 
uniting the struggle for economic independence 
with that for political liberty has fallen upon the 
German laboring class; in other words, besides 
performing its own class mission, it must do 


what in normally developed lands was long ago 
done by the bourgeoisie. 


All parties without exception recognize us as 
a political power, and exactly in proportion to our 
power. Even the craziest reactionary that 'denies 
us the right of existence courts our favor and 
by his acts gives the lie to his words. From the 
fact that our assistance is sought by other parties, 
some of our comrades draw the strange conclu- 
sion that we should reverse the party tactics, and 
in place of the old policy of the class struggle 
against all other parties, substitute the commer- 
cial politics of log rolling, wire pulling and com- 
promise. Such persons forget that the power 
which makes our alliance sought for, even by 
our bitterest enemies, would have had absolutely 
no existence were it not for the old class struggle 
tactics. If Marx, Engels and Lassalle had ac- 
cepted from Bernstein and his modest or not 
modest fellow thinkers the tactics of compromise 
and dependence upon bourgeois parties, then there 
never would have been any Social Democracy; 
we would have been simply the tail of the Pro- 
gressive party. That we accept as a part of our 
tactics the utilization of the quarrels among the 
bourgeois parties is self-explaining. And this 
course has been followed ever since we have 
had a German Social Democracy. To recognize 
this, we do not need the counsel of the newly 
baked party statesmen. That we have here and 
there worked with the Center or the Progressive 
party against a reactionary governmental party 
is understood by the comrades without the neces- 
sity of a special party manifesto. And in different 
election districts we have obtained greater ad- 
vantages by co-operation with the Center party 
without fusion than through the recent alliance in 
Bavaria. One rule does not fit every case. 

We Social Democrats dare not be like the 


other parties, all of whom are equally guilty of 
the injustices of the present system and equally 
responsible for them. Every one who suffers 
under these injustices looks to us for deliverance. 
Every one of us has had these victims of society 
after failing to get justice from the courts, from 
the government, from the Emperor himself, and 
from all the other parties, come to us as the last 
and only ones that can help them. They do not 
know our scientific program; thoy do not know 
what capital and capitalism mean; but they have 
the belief, the feeling, that we are a party that 
can help when all other parties fail This belief 
is for us an inexhaustible source of power. It 
was a similar faith of despair that spread more 
and more in the decaying Roman empire and 
slowly undermined the heathen world until it 
finally collapsed. We give up this inexhaustible 
source of power if we ally ourselves with other 
parties and drive suffering humanity from us by 
saying to it: "We are not essentially different 
from tho others." Once the boundary line of 
the class struggle is wiped away and we have 
started upon the inclined plane of compromise, 
there is no stopping. Then we can only go 
down and down until there is nothing deeper. 
We have had many instructive experiences of 
this in the Beichstag. Practical politics com- 
pelled us to make concessions to the society 
in which we lived. But every step on the 
way of concessions to present society was 
,hard for us, and was only done with reluc- 
tance. There are some who ridicule us for this. 
But he who fears to take a step on the inclined 
plane is at all events a more trustworthy com- 
rade than he who pours out scorn upon the 
cautious one. 

The catch word "revolution" is certainly ridicu- 
lous. Ridiculous it certainly is — and no one has 
expressed this more clearly than I myself — to 
drop the words ' ' revolution ' ' and * ' revolutionary ' ' 


out of the mouth at every opportunity. It can 
become as mechanical a song as saying one's 
beads. But ridiculous as it is to boast of be- 
longing to the party and to express one's views 
at every opportunity when there is no necessity 
for it, still such exaggerations do not justify us 
in throwing away the good with the bad, and 
declaring that to emphasize the revolutionary 
character of our party is, under all circumstances, 
ridiculous. To emphasize it is a very serious 
and a very necessary thing. It is serious, be- 
cause membership in the social democracy means 
a struggle, a political struggle with grievous per- 
secutions, and a private struggle for existence, a 
struggle that for the majority is far more difficult 
and heavy than the political struggle. And it is 
necessary, because the courage for this twofold 
struggle is created only by the consciousness that 
the injustice of society by which the great ma- 
jority of mankind are to-day oppressed, cor- 
rupted and crippled, can only be abolished 
through a revolutionary movement, that is, a 
movement that shall completely exterminate capi- 
talism with every fiber of its roots. 

I know that it has here and there become the 
fashion to laugh at the warning about sliding 
down inclined planes. They refer us to the fable 
of the sheep and the wolf. The comparison 
limps, however, and finally turns against the 
laugher. The wolf was actually there and at 
last broke into the fold. And in our case it is 
also no imaginary danger from which we are 
warned. And at all events the interests of the 
party are at least as carefully guarded by tho 
warners as by the scorners. Heretofore distrust 
was counted as a democratic virtue, and over- 
confidence as a democratic vice. Here and there 
are found persons who would reverse this maxim. 


The proletariat stands politically as well as 

socially in the most abrupt contradiction to the 
present class state. It must fight it on all fields 
and upon every question, both of domestic and 
of foreign policy. To be sure it is not always 
easy to decide rightly. Where the interests are 
not clearly visible the feelings may be easily de- 
ceived. Fortunately we have at the points where 
|t is hardest to decide an infallible compass in 
the actions of our enemies. If there are questions 
on which we can temporarily unite with them it 
is still inconceivable that anything that is fought 
for by our enemies as a question of great im- 
portance, or especially as of vital importance to 
them, can be desirable for the proletariat. We 
shall never go wrong if we do what is opposed to 
the interests of our enemy. On the other hand, 
we shall almost never go right if we do what 
our enemies applaud. Historical development is 
a continuous conflict, a conflict of interests, a 
conflict of races, a conflict of classes. And if 
friendship does not count even in ordinary busi- 
ness, how much less so in such a conflict. Good- 
naturedness and sentimentality have no place in 
politics. They have never won a victory, but 
have brought unnumbered defeats. Bluecher's 
motto, "Always follow the eannon's roar and 
throw yourself upon the enemy," is the best rule 
also in political warfare. 

Just a word in this connection. The class in- 
stinct of the bourgeoisie is far better developed 
than that of the proletariat. The governing 
class naturally knows its interests better than 
the governed, who have so much less opportunity 
to become informed and are also sometimes in- 
tentionally, and sometimes not, systematically de- 
ceived and misled from a recognition of their 
interests. Do not say that it is the rough form 
in which socialism is often set forth that frightens 
and embitters the bourgeoisie. That is absolutely 
false. It is not the form; it is the content which 
they detest; and the more harmless the form so 


much the more dangerous do the contents appear 
to the gentlemen of the bourgeoisie. The fineness 
of the form makes no difference to them. That is 
clear from the manner in which they fight out 
their quarrels among themselves. 

What a lot of abuse and fiction has been 
brought out about "Toelke's club!" "Toelke's 
club'* really never touched any one un gently. 
But club tactics has existed in Germany for 
decades, and has even yet not wholly disap- 
peared. But it is not laborers and also not 
socialists with whom the club counts, as the 
ultima ratio, the conclusive argument. It is the 
tactics of the noblest of the nation, the national 
liberals, who in the middle and southwestern por- 
tions of Germany organized battalions of brawl- 
ing club heroes, and thereby sought to retain 
their political domains through a brutal terror- 
ism. But the advancing social democracy has 
well nigh stamped them out. 


At any rate we may be sure that the political 
instinct of our bourgeois opponents, as soon as 
their class interests come into play, will lead them 
to take a position hostile to us. A classical ex- 
ample is furnished by Belgium, where, as already 
remarked, a compromise was concluded under 
the most favorable circumstances conceivable, 
between the socialists and the liberals. Our 
party was in undisputed possesion of the loader- 
ship and was therefore in no danger of being 
cheated out of the fruits of the common victory. 
The end sought was universal, equal and direct 
suffrage. But the clerical party knows its boys, 
knows its Pappenheimers. It knows that the 
bourgeoisie has no class interest in giving the 
laborers, who, in modern industrial states, con 
stitute a majority of the population, the uni- 
versal suffrage and thereby the prospect of win- 

50 no coifPROinsi. 

ning a majority and getting political supremacy. 
It made a counter demand for proportional rep- 
resentation with plural voting, that is, giving 
more votes to the rich, and thereby granting to 
the radical bourgeoisie a share in the govern- 
ment, if it would assist in defeating universal 
and direct suffrage. And behold, without a min- 
ute's hesitation the gentlemen of the radical bour- 
geoisie broke their agreement with the socialists 
and joined the clericals in their fight against 
universal suffrage and the social democracy. 
Whoever is not convinced by this example that 
the emancipation struggle of the proletariat is a 
class struggle is one on whom further arguments 
would be wasted. 

There is no political party upon whose firm 
support the social democracy can reckon. And 
every assistance that we can possibly expect from 
bourgeois parties in the complications of political 
life must, if we act skillfully, come to us anyhow 
without compromise. It is the same with com- 
promises and fusions between parties as with 
treaties between nations. They are observed so 
long, and only so long, as they are in the interest 
of the parties concerned. When common inter- 
ests exist, however, no compromise, fusion or 
contract is necessary. Suppose, to cite an actual 
instance, suppose the securing of six more repre- 
sentatives in the legislature was of great im- 
portance to our party in Bavaria; with the 
strength and influence which our party had it 
could have found a way to get them without any 
"cattle trade." The strengthening of the Center 
party, aside from the question of principles, was 
a great tactical error. This error was all the 
greater in that it checked the process of dissolu- 
tion which the Center party is now undergoing. 
This party holds together so long as the laborers 
who come within the sphere of its influence have 
not yet attained to class consciousness, have not 
yet learned to set their class interests above their 


sectarian interests; this is a process which the 
economic development necessarily carries along 
with itself, and which we aim to hasten by our 
propaganda. In Offenbach and other election 
districts this has been so far attained that in tho 
last election the majority of the Catholics voted 
for our candidates on the first ballot instead of for 
the candidates of their own party. The class 
struggle tactics is not only more correct in prin- 
ciple; it is also more practical and successful than 
compromise tactics. 

The standpoint of utility, which was empha- 
sized by the advocates of the Bavarian compro- 
mise, is certainly a very useful point, but there 
are other factors than utility which must be 
taken into consideration. The purity of our prin- 
ciples, the idealism of our struggle, these are 
factors of strengthening and drawing power that 
have given to us courage for all our battles, and 
have given to our doctrines an irresistible at- 
traction for all who feel themselves oppressed 
and have a sense of honor. Certainly the alliance 
with the Center party was very useful; it has 
given us half a dozen legislative votes; but what 
is it Gretchen sayst 

"How scornfully I once reviled 
When some poor maiden was beguiled I 
More speech than any tongue suffices 
I craved to censure others' vices. 
Black as it seemed I blackened still, 
And blacker yet was in my will; 
And blessed myself and boasted high — 
And now — a living sin am I ! ' ' 

Yes, how bravely we could once scold at the 
political log rollers, especially at the black ones! 
We painted them blacker than black. And to- 
day! We dare not do all that our opponents do. 
We dare not sacrifice everything for advantages. 
For what is an advantage to our opponents is 
deadly poison to us. The nobility say of them- 


selves, noblesse oblige; so we may say, sooialistne 
oblige, socialism imposes its obligations. 

If tactics prescribes or allows us to obligate 
ouselves to our opponents in order to attain a 
temporary success by a. temporary alliance, then 
Schuhwacher in Sobngen acted as a good tacti- 
cian in the opportunist sense by fusing with the 
Progressive party last year at the Reichstag elec- 
tions to rescue the party from us. He did not 
become a bourgeois, not at all; he only used the 
bourgeoisie to overthrow us, the false socialists, 
and to help true socialism on to victory, just as 
Millerand is going to crush out militarism by a 
compact with Gallifet and Waldeck-Bousseau. 
Schuhmacher can give exactly the same reasons 
for his action as Millerand can for his. Treason 
to the party is what we call it. 

With the growth of Social Democracy and 
with its entrance into fields hitherto dominated 
by other parties, and with the extension of our 
practical activity, we come more and more fre- 
quently into momentary unions, or momentary 
relations with other parties. But these momen- 
tary relations must never become momentary 
alliances. We must never bind the party. We 
must always keep our hand free; exploit the con- 
ditions; let our opponents do the dirty work for 
us; and with the goal of the party firmly in mind, 
keep in the middle of the road, and go our own 
way, only going along with opposing parties 
when our way happens to be the same as theirs. 
That we are a party of the class struggle, who 
have nothing in common with any other party, 
and who have to fight and conquer all other 
parties, in order to attain our goal, is something 
which we must never for a mome nt Jo se sight or. 


Concerning the case of Millerand, and the 
question of party union, I wrote at the invitatioa 
of the French comrades, on the occasion of the 


last anual convention of the Labor Party (the 
Marxists) at Epernay, the following letter: 

"Dear Friends; You know that I have made 
it a rule not to interfere with the affairs of the 
socialists in other countries. But as you wish to 
know my opinion on the burning question that 
is occupying the attention of the whole laboring 
and socialist portion of France, and as many of 
your countrymen, who have wholly different 
views upon this question from yours, have also 
turned to me, I have no longer any reason to 
withhold my opinion. The situation with which 
you are now occupied in France is at bottom not 
a foreign affair as to Germans. 

1 ' The internationality of socialism is a f act that 
is daily becoming more evident and more signifi- 
cant. We socialists are one nation to ourselves, 
•—one and the same international nation in all 
the lands of the earth. And the capitalists with 
their agents, instruments and dupes are likewise 
an international nation, so that we can truthfully 
say, there are to-day only two great nations in 
all lands that battle with each other in the great 
class struggle, which is the new revolution — a 
class struggle on one side of which stands the 
proletariat, representing socialism, and on the 
other the bourgeoisie, representing capitalism. 

"While the bourgeois world of capitalism con- 
tinues and the bourgeoisie rules, so long are all 
states necessarily class states, and all governments 
class governments, serving the purposes and in- 
terests of the ruling class, and destined to lead tho 
class struggle for the bourgeoisie against the pro- 
letariat — for capitalism against socialism, for our 
enemies and against us. From the standpoint of 
tho class struggle which is the foundation of mili- 
tant socialism, that is a truth which has been 
raised by the logic of thought and of facts be- 
yond the possibility of a doubt. A socialist who 
goes into a bourgeois government, either goes 
over to the enemy or else puts himself in the 

54 HO OOltPitOMISl. 

power of the enemy, la any case th» socialist 
who becomes a member of a bourgeois govern- 
ment separates himself from us, the militant so- 
cialists. He mar claim to be a socialist but he 
is no longer such. He may be convinced of his 
own sincerity, but in that case he has not com- 
prehended the nature of the class struggle— does 
not understand that the class struggle is the 
basis of socialism. 

" In these days, under the rule of capitalism, a 
government, even if it is full of philanthropy 
and animated by the best of intentions, can do 
nothing of real value to our cause. One must 
keep free from illusions. Decades ago, I said: 
'If the way to hell is paved with good intentions, 
the way to defeat is paved with illusions. ' In the 
present society, a non-capitalist government is 
an impossibility. The unfortunate socialist who 
casts in his lot with such a government if he will 
not betray his class only condemns himself to 
impotency. The English bourgeoisie offers the 
best example of weakening the opposition by per- 
mitting them to participate in the government. 
It has become the traditional policy of all parties 
in England that the most radical member of the 
opposition who is naive enough to be taken in 
should be given a place in the government. This 
man serves as a shield to the government and 
disarms his friends who cannot shoot at him — 
just as in battle one may not shoot at the host- 
ages that the enemy has placed in front of itself. 

"That is my answer concerning the question of 
the entrance of a socialist into a bourgeois gov- 

' ' Now, aa to the second question : The question 
of unity and agreement. The answer is dictated 
to me by the interests and principles of the party. 
I am for the unity of the party— for the national 
and international unity of the party. But it must 
be a unity of socialism and socialists. The unity 
with opponents — with people who have other 


aims and other interests, is no socialist unity. We 
must strive for unity at any price and with all 
sacrifices. But while we are uniting and organ- 
izing, we must rid ourselves of all foreign and 
antagonistic elements. What would one say of 
a general who in the enemy's country sought 
to fill the ranks of his army with recruits from 
the ranks of the enemy! Would that not be the 
height of foolishness f Very well, to take into 
our army — which is an army for the class strug- 
gle and the class war — opponents, soldiers with 
aims and interests entirely opposite to our own, 
—that would be madness, that would be suicide. 

"On the ground of the class struggle we are 
invincible; if we leave it we are lost, because we 
are no longer socialists. The strength and power 
of socialism rests in the fact that we are leading 
a class struggle; that the laboring class is ex- 
ploited and oppressed by the capitalist class, and 
that within capitalist society effectual reforms, 
which will put an end to class government and 
class exploitation, are impossible. 

"We cannot traffic in our principles, we can 
make no compromise, no agreement with the rul- 
ing system. We must break with the ruling 
system and fight it to a finish. It must fall that 
socialism may arise, and we certainly cannot ex- 
pect from tho ruling class that it will give to 
itself and its domination the death blow. The 
International Workingmen's Association accord- 
ingly preached that 'The emancipation of the 
laboring class must be the work of the laborers 
themselves. ' 

"Undoubtedly there are bourgeois who from a 
feeling of justice and humanity place themselves 
upon the side of the laborers and socialists, but 
these are only the exceptions; the mass of the 
bourgeoisie has class consciousness, a conscious- 
ness of being the ruling and exploiting class. 
Indeed, the mass of the bourgeoisie, just because 
they are a ruling class, have a much sharper and 


stronger class consciousness than the proletariat. 

"I conclude: You have asked my opinion, and 
I hare given it to you. It is for you to do what 
the interests and principles of the party de- 
mand that you should do. 

"Fraternal greeting to the convention at Eper- 
nay. Long live the France of the socialists and 
the laborers 1 Long live international socialism 1 

"Weimar, Aug. 10, 1899. W. Likbkmkcht. ' ' 

I have nothing to add to my letter. The events 
since then have justified it. The presence of a 
socialist in the government has accomplished 
nothing and prevented nothing that could not 
have been accomplished or prevented without 
this presence. On the other hand, in so far as 
the Social Democracy has caused or endorsed 
the entrance of a socialist into the government it 
has become in part responsible for all the sins of 
omission and of commission done by the govern- 
ment during the time in which a socialist was a 


It may be said in excuse or justification that 
they have acted under extraordinary conditions, 
—to rescue the republic, which would otherwise 
have been lost. This excuse will not stand ex- 
amination. The republic of France is not upheld 
by a few men in the government, including the 
socialist, but by the French laborers with whom 
the greater part of the peasants and small bour- 
geoisie stand side by side, and also by the great 
majority of the French people, who do not allow 
themselves to be led astray by the priests, nor 
coerced by the reactionary capitalists. Militar- 
ism is by far less strong and dangerous in France 
than in Germany, and the French army is to a 
much greater extent than in Germany a people's 
army. The army is as large as in Germany, al- 
though the population is fifteen million less; it 
contains therefore a larger per cent of the total 


population. France is actually at the point where 
it must break with the Prussian-German military 
system which it adopted after the war of 1870-71 ; 
it must either do as the minister of war, General 
Gallifet. has recommended — replace it with a 
well-drilled Praetorian Guard — or enter at once 
upon the militia system, and arm every person 
capable of bearing arms. A coup d'etat is im- 
possible with such an army. No matter how re- 
actionary a portion of the officers may be, the 
mass of soldiers are too close to the people 
to be used for such purposes. 

If, as has been represented to us, the actual 
formation of the Waldcck-Rousseau Ministry 
was necessary to protect the republic against a 
coup d'etat, then the republican sentiment of the 
French protetariat was security enough for the 
government — in every way a far better security 
than the participation of a socialist in the cabinet. 

The circumstance that the chief of this min- 
istry was a particularly clear-cut capitalist, and 
that the Minister of War was one of the most 
notorious "saberers M of the "Little Napoleon," 
and one of the most bloodthirsty murderers of 
the Communists, made the impropriety of Miller- 
and's action all the more evident. But even if 
in place of Waldeck-Rousseau there had been a 
genuine Democrat, as for example, Brisson, and 
in place of Gallifet an honorable soldier not yet 
stained with laborers' blood, the step would have 
been no less objectionable from our standpoint, 
though it would not have wounded the feelings 
so much. 

Class antagonism accompanied by the class strug- 
gle is now an existing fact. The state is, so loug 
as this class opposition and class struggle exists, 
necessarily a class state, and the government of 
this state, with like necessity, is a class govern- 
ment. The socialist who allows himself to be- 
come a member of such a government will soon 
lose his class-consciousness, if he has not already 


laid it down at the door of the cabinet, like a 
Mohammedan does his shoes at the entrance of 
the mosque, unless he has the courage to seise 
the first opportunity offered for a conflict and a 

I do not care to busy myself with the purely 
scholastic question as to whether a case might 
ever possibly arise in which a socialist should 
enter into a non-socialist government. Such an 
occasion could only arise after a catastrophic 
overthrow of the state, for example, during the 
course of a world war, when the government of 
a class state had broken down without the neces- 
sary elements being yet present for the formation 
of a socialist state. 

Such an occasion has certainly not yet arisen 
in France, and perhaps the last persons whose 
mission it is to "rescue the Republic" are just 
these same Waldeck-Rousseau and Gallifet. It 
is the Socialist party which was and is and re- 
mains the only party whose mission it is to be 
the rescuer and safeguard of the Republic, and 
this with or without Millerand. 

Guesde and Lafargue, the leading representa- 
tives of scientific socialism in France, have set 
forth in a scathing critique of " Ministerial ' ' op- 
portunist socialism, the distinction between the 
activity of a member of a popularly elected body 
and an officer of an executive body of the govern- 
ment itself of the established state. The officials 
and the government are the organs of class rule, 
who must from their very nature act in the inter- 
ests of the ruling class. The participation in a 
popularly elected body (Reichstag, legislature, 
common council, etc.) is on the contrary an ex- 
pression of popular sovereignty, which, though 
it is subject to the influences of the class rule, 
is really above it, and is the only power that can 
make an end of it. The representatives of the 
Social Democracy in such popular bodies are 
like the basalt blocks, which, pushed up from the 


interior of the earth, have broken through the 
sandstone and slate strata:— they arise from tho 
heart of the people, are a part of the people, and 
have in themselves the right and the power of 
popular sovereignty, which overtops and domin- 
ates all political and social matters. They are 
not there by the grace of the powers that be, but 
against their will, and in spite of their power- 
servants to be sure, but honorable servants, ser- 
vants, not of the possessors of power, but of the 
people, who have chosen them to secure the reali- 
zation of their sovereign will. Therefore, it is 
fundamentally incorrect to designate our activity 
in the Reichstag and other representative bodies 
as a compromise with the ruling powers. To bo 
sure, wo have to work there together with our 
enemies, but as an independent power, exercising 
the mandates we have received from the people. 
That is no co-operation upon the basis of com- 
mon views and aims; it is a labor that is a 
battle — a mutual struggle, a measuring of forces, 
whose play, direction and intensity, according to 
the eternal law of the parallelogram of forces, 
results in legislation and government. 

It is in the nature of things that out of this 
mutual wrestling and struggle, changing groups 
and momentary contacts should result; to call 
such momentary groupings compromises is a 
pure distortion of terms. A coming together 
as a result of conditions, and a working and 
striving in the same direction owing to circum- 
stances, is just as little a contract, an alliance or 
a compromise, as the reciprocal touching of the 
pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope is a contract, an 
alliance or a compromise. Whether the shaking 
power is a mechanical one, or is the force of 
organized law is all the same. Such approaches 
are without any obligations, are productions of 
the moment, born of the moment and swept away 
with the moment. 

It is no less incorrect to compare co-operation 


at iecond ballotings to Buch alliances as were 
proposed for the Prussian legislative elections 
and as were actually made for the Bavarian elec- 
tions. Such co-operation is only an episode of 
the battle at the polls which is fought by the 
party as a whole. After the first and chief elec- 
tion day an after battle follows, in which the un- 
decided points are fought out. That we, in these 
subsequent elections in electoral districts where 
we cannot ourselves put up a candidate, 
should vote for that one of the opposition can- 
didates whose election offers the most advant- 
ages to our party, is a requirement of elementary 
intelligence. I previously advocated this as an 
act of self-evident desirability at a time when 
some of those who are to-day enthusiastic for a 
participation in the Prussian legislative elections 
accused me of a half-betrayal of our principles. 
If, at a time when an exception law exists, or is 
in sight, we did not give our votes in these special 
elections to that one of two bourgeois candidates 
who was opposed to the exception law, we should 
be asses deserving the cudgel. But that is no 
compromise. We pledge ourselves to nothing, 
we sacrifice no principle, we sacrifice no interest; 
on the contrary, we act solely in our own in- 
terest, which we should have injured had we 
acted otherwise. The obligations rest upon our 
opponents. This tactics is so simple and natural 
that it was only brought into question for a time 
by an unclear hobby-riding of principles; as soon 
as the party leaders ceased to recommend this 
tactics, the rank and file of the party, following 
a sound instinct, carried it out anyhow over the 
heads of those leaders. And from time to time a 
special line of action was decided upon for each 
particular case. No trafficking, no underhand 
work; open and above board we attack the ene- 
my; and where two enemies stand in opposition, 
ene of whom must win the mandate, we strike the 
most dangerous of the two to earth. This is a 


policy of fighting such as befits a fighting party. 

In the original elections for the Reichs- 
tag, we are a fighting party that by its own 
strength wins its share in the popular representa- 
tion. We offer battle front to all parties, not 
even excepting those for whose members we may 
vote at the supplemental elections as the interest 
of our party may require. But in the Prussian 
legislative elections it is impossible for us to win 
a single representative by our own strength; in 
order to gain ono or more it is necessary to turn 
to a bourgeois party and make a political trade 
with them. In the Reichstag elections we are 
the strongest party in Germany, but in the Prus- 
sian legislative elections we are the weakest of 
all, indeed, completely helpless; because under 
the "worst of all election laws' ' we have, to be 
sure, a vote, but our vote is rendered nugatory, 
and a mandate can only be secured under the 
condition that we become dumb voting cattle of 
a bourgeois party. 

In the Bavarian legislative election things are 
somewhat different. In Bavaria, the election laws 
do not make it impossible to secure a mandate. 
This does not argue in favor of a compromise, 
butj on the contrary, places the "cattle trade," 
which took place this summer, in a still worse 

I will not here enter upon the grounds of oppo- 
sition to participating in the Prussian legislative 
election. The demoralization through the change 
of front in the Reichstag elections and the legis- 
lative elections, the confusion in the minds, the 
loosening of discipline, and above all the obliter- 
ation of the class struggle character of our party 
has been already, and by myself among others, 
so often and so emphatically set forth that I will 
not tire the reader by a repetition. 

Only one thing more. 

If the bourgeois parties still had any vitality 
left they would not need our help to secure a 


victory in the Prussian legislative elections. The 
first two classes belong to the bourgeois electors. 
No one can rob them of a majority if they do not 
themselves surrender it. How then can we help 
themf Can one make the lame or the drunk 
walkf One can help them up, but as soon as one 
lets go they fall to the ground like an empty 
sack. We cannot escape this dilemma; either the 
bourgeoisie still has political vitality— in which 
case they do not need our help; or they do not 
have it, and in that case our help would be use- 
less. Can we be expected to make an alliance 
with a corpse! 


Fault has been found because I said in a news- 
paper article that a new anti-socialist law would 
be a less evil than the abolition of class antagon- 
ism and party lines through fusion with the Prus- 
sian Progressive party in the legislative elections. 
The more I consider it the more I am convinced 
of the correctness of this position. What is to 
become of our party if we allow ourselves to be 
pressed out of the path of our principles by 
threatened or threatening dangers and disadvant- 
ages! Fear is proverbially a poor adviser for 
human action; for a party it is destruction. Fear 
of the labor movement and socialism has caused 
the political downfall of the German bourgeoisie; 
and the days of the Social Democracy are num- 
bered as soon as tho cry of fear finds a response 
in us. We should not challenge, but we should 
not sound the alarm and be misled by fear into 
taking steps that do not accord with the princi- 
ples, the nature and the honor of our party. One 
does not disarm an enemy through timidity and 
gentleness; one simply emboldens him. Not 
that we should seek to run our heads through a 
wall. We wish to be and must be "practical." 
But has this ever been denied or questioned! We 


have always been "practical," Bernstein to the 
contrary notwithstanding. We have always based 
our efforts on existing conditions and worked 
methodically with our eye upon the goal. In 
cities, states and empire, all reasonable improve- 
ments have at least been supported, if not pro- 
posed by the Social Democracy. Think only of 
the greatest of all reforms, the reform of the 
social evil, in which the government, if it does 
not wish to build ruins or air castles, must take 
hold of the demands made by us over ten years 

We can say of ourselves, that not only are we 
practical, but that we are the only practical party, 
—practical in the sense of reasonable. Only those 
who recognize the organic laws of development 
and systematically strive in harmony with them 
towards a definite goal are practical. And this is 
the way we work. Our opponents either do not 
know these laws, or else if they recognize them 
they seek to bend or break them. Whoever seeks 
to compel water to run up hill is certainly not 
practical, and such is the foolish aim of our op- 
ponents. To be sure it has been said that the 
laborers cannot alone secure the emancipation of 
the laboring class: that the intelligent and cul- 
tured elements of the other classes must co- 
operate with them. We are pointed to the many 
measures useful to the laboring class which are 
enacted or supported by the bourgeois parties. 
But this is sophistical reasoning. For (and on 
this point the evidence of Bismarck is decisive) 
none of these social reform measures, and surely 
they are few enough, would ever have been en- 
acted without the initiative and the pressure of 
the proletariat and the Social Democracy. 

Bernstein claims that socialism is the ultimate 
outcome of liberalism. To claim this is to abso- 
lutely deny the existence of any class antagonism. 

This sentence was reversed by Miquel, my 
former comrade in communismo, and present 


Chancellor in re, so as to read, liberalism ifl 
the ultimate outcome of communism. And that 
the liberalism of Miquel is very near to conserv- 
atism, in the German sense, that is, to the agra- 
rian medieval ideal of personal bondage, every 
one knows who has ears to hear and eyes to see. 

No, Social Democracy must remain for itself, 
must seek for and generate its power within itself. 
Every power outside of ourselves on which we 
seek to lean is for us only weakness. In the 
consciousness of our strength, in our faith in the 
world-conquering mission of socialism lies the 
secret of our extraordinary, almost miraculous 

Islam was unconquerable so long as it trusted 
in itself alone and saw an enemy in every non- 
Mohammedan. From the moment when Islam 
entered upon the path of compromise and united 
with the non-Mohammedan, the so-called civil- 
ized powers, its conquering power was gone. With 
Islam it could not have been otherwise. It was 
not the true world redeeming faith. Socialism, 
however, is this, and socialism cannot conquer 
nor redeem the world if it ceases to believe upon 
itself alone. 

Therefore, we will not turn from the old tactics, 
nor from the old program. Ever advancing with 
science and economic development, we are what 
we were and we will remain what we are. 

Or— the Social Democracy will cease to exist. 


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